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University of California • Berkeley 

From the Bequest 


Dorothy K. Thomas 





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Illustrated, crown 8vo, cloth gilt, 6s. 
The Treasure Seekers 
The Would-be-Goods 
Nine Unlikely Tales for Children 
Five Children and It 
New Treasure Seekers 
The Story of the Amulet 


Crmvn 8vo, cloth, 6s. 
Man and Maid 

Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2008 with funding from 

Microsoft Corporation 



Enchanted Castle 







Adelphi Terrace 


(All rights reserved.) 





Peggy, you came from the heath and moor, 
And you brought their airs through my open door 
You brought the blossom of youth to blow- 
In the Latin Quarter of Soho. 

For the sake of that magic I send you here 
A tale of enchantments, Peggy dear, 
— A bit of my work, and a bit of my heart . . . 
The bit that you left when we had to part. 

September 25, 1907. 
Royalty Chambers, Soho, W. 



" LITTLE DECEIVER ! " SHE SAID . . . . .18 






"it's A GAME, isn't IT?" ASKED JIMMY . . .48 

she was waiting for them with a candle in her hand 51 
looking at herself in the little silver-framed mirror . 56 
backward and forward he went .... 61 

"your shadow's not invisible, anyhow " . . .68 

the bread and butter waving about in the air . 75 

" halloa, missy, ain't you blacked yer back, neither ! " . 83 
"you're getting at me " . . . . 92 

"STOW it!" cried THE MAN . . . . .95 









"'e's LEP' INTO THE WATER" . ... 151 

























The Enchanted Castle 


There were three of them — Jerry, Jimmy, and 
Kathleen. Of course, Jerry's name was Gerald, 
and not Jeremiah, whatever you may think ; 
and Jimmy's name was James ; and Kathleen 
was never called by her name at all, but Cathy, 
or Catty, or Puss Cat, when her brothers were 
pleased with her, and Scratch Cat when they 
were not pleased. And they were at school 
in a little town in the West of England — the 
boys at one school, of course, and the girl 
at another, because the sensible habit of having 
boys and girls at the same school is not yet as 
common as I hope it will be some day. They used 
to see each other on Saturdays and Sundays 
at the house of a kind maiden lady ; but it 
Avas one of those houses where it is impos- 
sible to play. You know the kind of house, 
don't you ? There is a sort of a something 
about that kind of house that makes you 
hardly able even to talk to each other when 



you are left alone, and playing seems un- 
natural and affected. So they looked forward 
to the holidays, when they should all go home 
and be together all day long, in a house where 
playing was natural and conversation possible, 
and where the Hampshire forests and fields were 
full of interesting things to do and see. Their 
Cousin Betty was to be there too, and there 
were plans. Betty's school broke up before 
theirs, and so she got to the Hampshire home 
first, and the moment she got there she began 
to have measles, so that my three couldn't go 
home at all. You may imagine their feelings. 
The thought of seven weeks at Miss Hervey's 
was not to be borne, and all three wrote 
home and said so. This astonished their parents 
very much, because they had always thought it 
was so nice for the children to have dear Miss 
Hervey's to go to. However, they were "jolly 
decent about it," as Jerry said, and after a lot 
of letters and telegrams, it was arranged that 
the boys should go and stay at Kathleen's 
school, where there were now no girls left 
and no mistresses except the French one. 

" It'll be better than being at Miss Hervey's," 
said Kathleen, when the boys came round to 
ask Mademoiselle when it would be convenient 
for them to come ; " and, besides, our school's not 
half so ugly as yours. We do have tablecloths 
on the tables and curtains at the windows, and 
yours is all deal boards, and desks, and inkiness." 

When they had gone to pack their boxes 
Kathleen made all the rooms as pretty as 


she could with flowers in jam jars — marigolds 
chiefly, because there was nothing much else 
in the back garden. There were geraniums in 
the front garden, and calceolarias and lobelias ; 
of course, the children were not allowed to pick 

" We ought to have some sort of play to 
keep us going through the holidays," said 
Kathleen, when tea was over, and she had 
unpacked and arranged the boys' clothes in 
the painted chests of drawers, feeling very 
grown-up and careful as she neatly laid the 
different sorts of clothes in tidy little heaps 
in the drawers. " Suppose we write a book." 

" You couldn't," said Jimmy. 

" I didn't mean me, of course," said Kathleen, 
a little injured ; " I meant us." 

" Too much fag," said Gerald briefly. 

"If we wrote a book," Kathleen persisted, 
" about what the insides of schools really are 
like, people would read it and say how clever' 
we were." 

" More likely expel us," said Gerald. " No ; 
we'll have an out-of-doors game — bandits, or 
something like that. It wouldn't be bad if Ave 
could get a cave and keep stores in it, and have 
our meals there." 

" There aren't any caves," said Jimmy, who 
was fond of contradicting every one. " And, 
besides, your precious Mamselle won't let us 
go out alone, as likely as not." 

" Oh, we'll see about that," said Gerald. " I'll 
go and talk to her like a father." 


" Like that ? " Kathleen pointed the thumb 
of scorn at him, and he looked in the glass. 

" To brush his hair and his clothes and to 
wash his face and hands was to our hero but 
the work of a moment," said Gerald, and went 
to suit the action to the word. 

It was a very sleek boy, brown and thin 
and interesting-looking, that knocked at the 
door of the parlour where Mademoiselle sat 
reading a yellow-covered book and wishing 
vain wishes. Gerald could always make him- 
self look interesting at a moment's notice, a 
very useful accomplishment in dealing with 
strange grown-ups. It was done by opening 
his grey eyes rather wide, allowing the corners 
of his mouth to droop, and assuming a gentle, 
pleading expression, resembling that of the 
late little Lord Fauntleroy — who must, by the 
way, be quite old now, and an awful prig. 

" Entrez ! " said Mademoiselle, in shrill French 
accents. So he entered. 

" Eh bien ? " she said rather impatiently. 
" I hope I am not disturbing you," said Gerald, 
in whose mouth, it seemed, butter would not 
have melted. 

" But no," she said, somewhat softened. 
" What is it that you desire ? " 

" I thought I ought to come and say how do 
you do," said Gerald, "because of you being the 
lady of the house." 

He held out the newly-washed hand, still 
damp and red. She took it. 

" You are a very polite little boy," she said. 


" Not at all," said Gerald, more polite than 
ever. " I am so sorry for you. It must be 
dreadful to have us to look after in the 

" But not at all," said Mademoiselle in her 
turn. " I am sure you will be very good 

Gerald's look assured her that he and the 
others would be as near angels as children 
could be without ceasing to be human. 

" We'll try," he said earnestly. 

"Can one do anything for you?" asked the 
French governess kindly. 

" Oh, no, thank you," said Gerald. " We don't 
want to give you any trouble at all. And I was 
thinking it would be less trouble for you if we 
were to go out into the woods all day to-morrow 
and take our dinner with us — something cold, 
you know — so as not to be a trouble to the 

" You are very considerate," said Mademoiselle 
coldly. Then Gerald's eyes smiled; they had 
a trick of doing this when his lips were quite 
serious. Mademoiselle caught the twinkle, and 
she laughed and Gerald laughed too. 

" Little deceiver ! " she said. " Why not say at 
once you want to be free of surveillance, how 
you say — overwatching — without pretending it 
is me you wish to please ? " 

" You have to be careful with grown-ups," 
said Gerald, "but it isn't all pretence either. 
We don't want to trouble you — and we don't 

want you to " 




" To trouble you. Eh bieu ! Your parents, 
they permit these days at woods ? " 

" Oh, yes," said Gerald truthfully. 

" Then I will not be more a dragon than the 
parents. I will forewarn the cook. Are you 
content ? " 

" Rather ! " said Gerald. " Mademoiselle, you 
are a dear." 

" A deer ? " she repeated — " a stag ? " 

" No, a — a cherie" said Gerald — " a regular 
Al cherie. And you shan't repent it. Is there 
anything we can do for you — wind your wool, 
or find your spectacles, or ? " 

" He thinks me a grandmother ! " said Made- 
moiselle, laughing more than ever. " Go then, 

and be not more naughty than you must." 


" Well, what luck ? " the others asked. 

" It's all right," said Gerald indifferently. " I 
told you it would be. The ingenuous youth 
won the regard of the foreign governess, who 
in her youth had been the beauty of her humble 

" I don't believe she ever was. She's too 
stern," said Kathleen. 

" Ah ! " said Gerald, " that's only because you 
don't know how to manage her. She wasn't 
stern with me." 

" I say, what a humbug you are though, 
aren't you ? " said Jimmy. 

" No, I'm a dip — what's-its-name ? Something- 
like an ambassador. Dipsoplomatist — that's 
what I am. Anyhow, we've got our day, and 


if we don't find a cave in it my name's not 
Jack Robinson." 

Mademoiselle, less stern than Kathleen had 
ever seen her, presided at supper, which was 
bread and treacle spread several hours before, 
and now harder and drier than any other food 
you can think of. Gerald was very polite in 
handing her butter and cheese, and pressing 
her to taste the bread and treacle. 

" Bah ! it is like sand in the mouth — of a dry- 
ness ! Is it possible this pleases you ? " 

" No," said Gerald, " it is not possible, but it 
is not polite for boys to make remarks about 
their food ! " 

She laughed, but there was no more dried 
bread and treacle for supper after that. 

" How do you do it ? " Kathleen whispered 
admiringly as they said good-night. 

" Oh, it's quite easy when you've once got a 
grown-up to see what you're after. You'll see, 
I shall drive her with a rein of darning cotton 
after this." 

Next morning Gerald got up early and 
gathered a little bunch of pink carnations from 
a plant which he found hidden among the 
marigolds. He tied it up with black cotton 
and laid it on Mademoiselle's plate. She smiled 
and looked quite handsome as she stuck the 
flowers in her belt. 

"Do you think it's quite decent," Jimmy 
asked later — " sort of bribing people to let you 
do as you like with flowers and things and 
passing them the salt ? " 


" It's not that," said Kathleen suddenly. " / 
know what Gerald means, only I never think 
of the things in time myself. You see, if you 
want grown-ups to be nice to you the least 
you can do is to be nice to them and think of 
little things to please them. I never think of 
any myself. Jerry does ; that's why all the old 
ladies like him. It's not bribery. It's a sort of 
honesty — like paying for things." 

"Well, anyway," said Jimmy, putting away 
the moral question, " we've got a ripping day 
for the woods." 

They had. 

The wide High Street, even at the busy 
morning hour almost as quiet as a dream- 
street, lay bathed in sunshine ; the leaves shone 
fresh from last night's rain, but the road was 
dry, and in the sunshine the very dust of it- 
sparkled like diamonds. The beautiful old 
houses, standing stout and strong, looked as 
though they were basking in the sunshine and 
enjoying it. 

"But are there any woods?" asked Kathleen 
as they passed the market-place. 

" It doesn't much matter about woods," said 
Gerald dreamily, " we're sure to find something. 
One of the chaps told me his father said when 
he was a boy there used to be a little cave 
under the bank in a lane near the Salisbury 
Road ; but he said there was an enchanted 
castle there too, so perhaps the cave isn't true 

"If we were to get horns," said Kathleen, 


"and to blow them very hard all the way, we 
might find a magic castle." 

" If you've got the money to throw away on 
horns ..." said Jimmy contemptuously. 

" Well, I have, as it happens, so there ! " said 
Kathleen. And the horns were bought in a 
tiny shop with a bulging window full of a 
tangle of toys and sweets and cucumbers and 
sour apples. 

And the quiet square at the end of the town 
where the church is, and the houses of the most 
respectable people, echoed to the sound of horns 
blown long and loud. But none of the houses 
turned into enchanted castles. 

So they went along the Salisbury Road. 
which was very hot and dusty, so they agreed 
to drink one of the bottles of gingerbeer. 

" We might as well carry the gingerbeer 
inside us as inside the bottle," said Jimmy, " and 
we can hide the bottle and call for it as we come 

Presently they came to a place where the 
road, as Gerald said, went two ways at once. 

" That looks like adventures," said Kathleen ; 
and they took the right-hand road, and the next 
time they took a turning it was a left-hand one, 
so as to be quite fair, Jimmy said, and then 
a right-hand one and then a left, and so on, till 
they were completely lost. 

" Completely," said Kathleen ; " how jolly ! " 

And now trees arched overhead, and the 
banks of the road were high and bushy. The 
adventurers had long since ceased to blow their 


horns. It was too tiring* to go on doing that, 
when there was no one to be annoyed by it. 

" Oh, kriky!" observed Jimmy suddenly, " let's 
sit down a bit and have some of our dinner. 
We might call it lunch, you know," he added 

So they sat down in the hedge and ate the 
ripe red gooseberries that were to have been 
their dessert. 

And as they sat and rested and wished that 
their boots did not feel so full of feet, Gerald 
leaned back against the bushes, and the bushes 
gave way so that he almost fell over backward. 
Something had yielded to the pressure of his 
back, and there was the sound of something 
heavy that fell. 

" O Jimminy ! " he remarked, recovering him- 
self suddenly ; " there's something hollow in 
there — the stone I was leaning against simply 
ivent ! " 

" I wish it was a cave," said Jimmy ; "but of 
course it isn't." 

"If Ave blow the horns perhaps it will be," 
said Kathleen, and hastily blew her own. 

Gerald reached his hand through the bushes. 
" I can't feel anything but air," he said ; " it's 
just a hole full of emptiness." The other two 
pulled back the bushes. There certainly was 
a hole in the bank. " I'm going to go in," 
observed Gerald. 

" Oh, don't ! " said his sister. " I wish you 
wouldn't. Suppose there were snakes ! " 

"Not likely," said Gerald, but he leaned 


forward and struck a match. " It is a cave ! " 
he cried, and put his knee on the mossy stone 
he had been sitting on, scrambled over it, and 

A breathless pause followed. 

" You all right ? " asked Jimmy. 

" Yes ; come on. You'd better come feet first 
— there's a bit of a drop." 

" I'll go next," said Kathleen, and went — feet 
first, as advised. The feet waved wildly in the 

" Look out ! " said Gerald in the dark ; " you'll 
have my eye out. Put your feet down, girl, 
not up. It's no use trying to fly here — there's 
no room." 

He helped her by pulling her feet forcibly 
down and then lifting her under the arms. 
She felt rustling dry leaves under her boots, 
and stood ready to receive Jimmy, who came 
in head first, like one diving into an unknown 

" It is a cave," said Kathleen. 

" The young explorers," explained Gerald, 
blocking up the hole of entrance with his 
shoulders, " dazzled at first by the darkness of 
the cave, could see nothing." 

" Darkness doesn't dazzle," said Jimmy. 

" I wish we'd got a candle," said Kathleen. 

" Yes, it does," Gerald contradicted — " could 
see nothing. But their dauntless leader, whose 
eyes had grown used to the dark while the 
clumsy forms of the others were bunging up 
the entrance, had made a discovery." 



" Oh, what ! " Both the others were used to 
Gerald's way of telling a story while he acted 
it, but they did sometimes wish that he didn't 
talk quite so long and so like a book in 
moments of excitement. 

" He did not reveal the dread secret to his 
faithful followers till one and all had given him 
their word of honour to be calm." 

" We'll be calm all right," said Jimmy im- 

" Well, then," said Gerald, ceasing suddenly to 
be a book and becoming a boy, " there's a light 
over there —-look behind you ! " 

They looked. And there was. A faint grey- 
ness on the brown walls of the cave, and a 
brighter greyness cut off sharply by a dark line, 
showed that round a turning or angle of the 
cave there was daylight. 

" Attention ! " said Gerald ; at least, that was 
what he meant, though what he said was 
" 'Shun ! " as becomes the son of a soldier. 
The others mechanically obeyed. 

" You will remain at attention till I give the 
word ' Slow march ! ' on which you will advance 
cautiously in open order, following your hero 
leader, taking care not to tread on the dead 
and wounded." 

" I wish you wouldn't ! " said Kathleen. 

" There aren't any," said Jimmy, feeling for 
her hand in the dark ; " he only means, take 
care not to tumble over stones and things." 

Here he found her hand, and she screamed. 

" It's only me," said Jimmy. " I thought 


you'd like me to hold it. But you're just like 
a girl. 

Their eyes had now begun to get accustomed 
to the darkness, and all could see that they 
were in a rough stone cave, that went straight 
on for about three or four yards and then 
turned sharply to the light. 

" Death or victory ! " remarked Gerald. " Now, 
then — Slow march ! " 

He advanced carefully, picking his way among 
the loose earth and stones that were the floor 
of the cave. " A sail, a sail ! " he cried, as he 
turned the corner. 

" How splendid ! " Kathleen drew a long 
breath as she came out into the sunshine. 

"I don't see any sail," said Jimmy, following. 

The narrow passage ended in a round arch 
all fringed with ferns and creepers. They 
passed through the arch into a deep, narrow 
gully whose banks were of stones, moss- 
covered ; and in the crannies grew more ferns 
and long grasses. Trees growing on the top 
of the bank arched across, and the sunlight 
came through in changing patches of bright- 
ness, turning the gully to a roofed corridor of 
goldy-green. The path, which was of greeny- 
grey flagstones where heaps of leaves had 
drifted, sloped steeply down, and at the end 
of it was another round arch, quite dark in- 
side, above which rose rocks and grass and 

" It's like the outside of a railway tunnel," 
said James. 


" It's the entrance to the enchanted castle," 
said Kathleen. " Let's blow the horns." 

" Dry up ! " said Gerald. " The bold Captain, 
reproving the silly chatter of his subor- 
dinates " 

" I like that ! " said Jimmy, indignant. 

" I thought you would," resumed Gerald — " of 
his subordinates, bade them advance with caution 
and in silence, because after all there might be 
somebody about, and the other arch might be an 
ice-house or something dangerous." 

" What ? " asked Kathleen anxiously. 

" Bears, perhaps," said Gerald briefly. 

" There aren't any bears without bars — in 
England, anyway," said Jimmy. " They call 
bears bars in America," he added absently. 

" Quick march ! " was Gerald's only reply. 

And they marched. Under the drifted damp 
leaves the path was firm and stony to their 
shuffling feet. At the dark arch they stopped. 

" There are steps down," said Jimmy. 

" It is an ice-house," said Gerald. 

" Don't let's," said Kathleen. 

" Our hero," said Gerald, " who nothing could 
dismay, raised the faltering hopes of his abject 
minions by saying that he was jolly well 
going on, and they could do as they liked 
about it." 

" If you call names," said Jimmy, " you can go 
on by yourself." He added, " So there ! " 

" It's part of the game, silly," explained Gerald 
kindly. "You can be Captain to-morrow, so 
you'd better hold your jaw now, and begin to 

" it's the entrance to the enchanted castle," 
said kathleen. 


think about what names you'll call us when it's 
your turn." 

Very slowly and carefully they went down the 
steps. A vaulted stone arched over their heads. 
Gerald struck a match when the last step was 
found to have no edge, and to be, in fact, the 
beginning of a passage, turning to the left. 

" This," said Jimmy, " will take us back into 
the road." 

" Or under it," said Gerald. " We've come 
down eleven steps." 

They 'went on, following their leader, who 
went very slowly for fear, as he explained, of 
steps. The passage was very dark. 

" I don't half like it ! " whispered Jimmy. 

Then came a glimmer of daylight that grew 
and grew, and presently ended in another arch 
that looked out over a scene so like a picture 
out of a book about Italy that every one's 
breath was taken away, and they simply 
walked forward silent and staring. A short 
avenue of cypresses led, widening as it went, 
to a marble terrace that lay broad and white 
in the sunlight. The children, blinking, leaned 
their arms on the broad, flat balustrade and 
gazed. Immediately below them was a lake — 
just like a lake in "The Beauties of Italy" — a 
lake with swans and an island and weeping 
willows ; beyond it were green slopes dotted 
with groves of trees, and amid the trees 
gleamed the white limbs of statues. Against a 
little hill to the left was a round white building 
with pillars, and to the right a waterfall came 


tumbling down among mossy stones to splash 
into the lake. Steps led from the terrace to 
the water, and other steps to the green lawns 
beside it. Away across the grassy slopes deer 
were feeding, and in the distance where the 
groves of trees thickened into what looked 
almost a forest were enormous shapes of grey 
stone, like nothing that the children had ever 
seen before. 

" That chap at school " said Gerald. 

" It is an enchanted castle," said Kathleen. 

" I don't see any castle," said Jimmy. 

" What do you call that, then ? " Gerald 
pointed to where, beyond a belt of lime-trees, 
white towers and turrets broke the blue of 
the sky. 

"There doesn't seem to be any one about," 
said Kathleen, " and yet it's all so tidy. I 
believe it is magic." 

" Magic mowing machines," Jimmy suggested. 

" If we were in a book it would be an 
enchanted castle — certain to be," said Kathleen. 

" It is an enchanted castle," said Gerald in 
hollow tones. 

" But there aren't any." Jimmy was quite 

"How do you know? Do you think there's 
nothing in the world but what you've seen ? " 
His scorn was crushing. 

" I think magic went out when people began 
to have steam-engines," Jimmy insisted, "and 
newspapers, and telephones and wireless tele- 



"Wireless is rather like magic when you come 
to think of it," said Gerald. 

" Oh, that sort ! " Jimmy's contempt was 

"Perhaps there's given up being magic 
because people didn't believe in it any more," 
said Kathleen. 

" Well, don't let's spoil the show with any 
silly old not believing," said Gerald with 
decision. " I'm going to believe in magic as 
hard as I can. This is an enchanted garden, 
and that's an enchanted castle, and I'm jolly 
well going to explore. The dauntless knight 
then led the way, leaving his ignorant squires 
to follow or not, just as they jolly well chose." 
He rolled off the balustrade and strode firmly 
down towards the lawn, his boots making, as 
they went, a clatter full of determination. 

The others followed. There never was such 
a garden — out of a picture or a fairy tale. 
They passed quite close by the deer, who only 
raised their pretty heads to look, and did not 
seem startled at all. And after a long stretch 
of turf they passed under the heaped-up heavy 
masses of lime-trees and came into a rose- 
garden, bordered with thick, close-cut yew 
hedges, and lying red and pink and green and 
white in the sun, like a giant's many-coloured, 
highly-scented pocket-handkerchief. 

" I know we shall meet a gardener in a 
minute, and he'll ask what we're doing here. 
And then what will you say ? " Kathleen asked 
with her nose in a rose. 

"this is an enchanted garden and that's an enchanted castle.' 



" I shall say we've lost our way, and it will 
be quite true," said Gerald. 

But they did not meet a gardener or anybody 
else, and the feeling of magic got thicker and 
thicker, till they were almost afraid of the 
sound of their feet in the great silent place. 
Beyond the rose garden was a yew hedge with 
an arch cut in it, and it was the beginning of 
a maze like the one in Hampton Court. 

" Now," said Gerald, "you mark my words. 
In the middle of this maze we shall find the 
secret enchantment. Draw your swords, my 
merry men all, and hark forward tallyho in 
the utmost silence." 

Which they did. 

It was very hot in the maze, between the 
close yew hedges, and the way to the maze's 
heart w r as hidden well. Again and again they 
found themselves at the black yew arch that 
opened on the rose garden, and they were all 
glad that they had brought large, clean pocket- 
handkerchiefs with them. 

It was when they found themselves there for 
the fourth time that Jimmy suddenly cried, 

" Oh, I wish " and then stopped short very 

suddenly. "Oh!" he added in quite a different 
voice, " where's the dinner?" And then in a 
stricken silence they all remembered that the 
basket with the dinner had been left at the 
entrance of the cave. Their thoughts dwelt 
fondly on the slices of cold mutton, the six 
tomatoes, the bread and butter, the screwed- 
up paper of salt, the apple turnovers, and the 


little thick glass that one drank the gingerbeer 
out of. 

" Let's go back," said Jimmy, " now this 
minute, and get our things and have our 

" Let's have one more try at the maze. I hate 
giving things up," said Gerald. 

" I am so hungry ! " said Jimmy. 

" Why didn't you say so before ? " asked 
Gerald bitterly. 

" I wasn't before." 

" Then you can't be now. You don't get 
hungry all in a minute. What's that?" 

" That " was a gleam of red that lay at the 
foot of the yew hedge— a thin little line, that 
you would hardly have noticed unless you had 
been staring in a fixed and angry way at the 
roots of the hedge. 

It was a thread of cotton. Gerald picked it 
up. One end of it was tied to a thimble with 
holes in it, and the other 

" There is no other end," said Gerald, with 
firm triumph. " It's a clue — that's what it is. 
What price cold mutton now? I've always 
felt something magic would happen some day, 
and now it has." 

" I expect the gardener put it there," said 

" With a Princess's silver thimble on it ? 
Look ! there's a crown on the thimble." 

There was. 

"Come," said Gerald in low, urgent tones, 
"if you are adventurers be adventurers; and 


anyhow, I expect some one has gone along the 
road and bagged the mutton hours ago." 

He walked forward, winding the red thread 
round his fingers as he went. And it was a 
clue, and it led them right into the middle 
of the maze. And in the very middle of the 
maze they came upon the wonder. 

The red clue led them up two stone steps to a 
round grass plot. There was a sun-dial in the 
middle, and all round against the yew hedge 
a low, wide marble seat. The red clue ran 
straight across the grass and by the sun-dial, 
and ended in a small brown hand with jewelled 
rings on every finger. The hand was, naturally, 
attached to an arm, and that had many brace- 
lets on it, sparkling with red and blue and green 
stones. The arm wore a sleeve of pink and gold 
brocaded silk, faded a little here and there but 
still extremely imposing, and the sleeve was 
part of a dress, which was worn by a lady who 
lay on the stone seat asleep in the sun. The 
rosy gold dress fell open over an embroidered 
petticoat of a soft green colour. There was old 
yellow lace the colour of scalded cream, and 
a thin white veil spangled with silver stars 
covered the face. 

" It's the enchanted Princess," said Gerald, 
now really impressed. " I told you so." 

" It's the Sleeping Beauty," said Kathleen. 
" It is — look how old-fashioned her clothes are, 
like the pictures of Marie Antoinette's ladies in 
the history book. She has slept for a hundred 
years. Oh, Gerald, you're the eldest ; you must 
be the Prince, and we never knew it." 
































































" She isn't really a Princess," said Jimmy. 
But the others laughed at him, partly because 
his saying things like that was enough to spoil 
any game, and partly because they really were 
not at all sure that it was not a Princess who 
lay there as still as the sunshine. Every stage 
of the adventure — the cave, the wonderful 
gardens, the maze, the clue, had deepened the 
feeling of magic, till now Kathleen and Gerald 
were almost completely bewitched. 

" Lift the veil up, Jerry," said Kathleen in a 
whisper ; "if she isn't beautiful we shall know 
she can't be the Princess." 

" Lift it yourself," said Gerald. 

"I expect you're forbidden to touch the 
figures," said Jimmy. 

" It's not wax, silly," said his brother. 

" No," said his sister, " wax wouldn't be much 
good in this sun. And, besides, you can see her 
breathing. It's the Princess right enough." She 
very gently lifted the edge of the veil and 
turned it back. The Princess's face was small 
and white between long plaits of black hair. 
Her nose was straight and her brows finely 
traced. There were a few freckles on cheek- 
bones and nose. 

"No wonder," whispered Kathleen, "sleeping 
all these years in all this sun ! " Her mouth 
was not a rosebud. But all the same — 

" Isn't she lovely !" Kathleen murmured. 

" Not so dusty," Gerald was understood to reply. 

"Now, Jerry," said Kathleen firmly, "you're 
the eldest." 


" Of course I am," said Gerald uneasily. 
" Well, you've got to wake the Princess." 
" She's not a Princess," said Jimmy, with his 
hands in the pockets of his knickerbockers ; 
"she's only a little girl dressed up." 

" But she's in long dresses," urged Kathleen. 
"Yes, but look what a little way down her 
frock her feet come. She wouldn't be any taller 
than Jerry if she was to stand up." 

" Now then," urged Kathleen. " Jerry, don't 
be silly. You've got to do it." 

" Do what? " asked Gerald, kicking his left boot 
with his right. 

" Why, kiss her awake, of course." 
" Not me ! " was Gerald's unhesitating re- 

" Well, some one's got to." 

" She'd go for me as likely as not the minute 
she woke up," said Gerald anxiously. 

" I'd do it like a shot," said Kathleen, " but I 
don't suppose it ucl make any difference me 
kissing her." 

She did it ; and it didn't. The Princess still 
lay in deep slumber. 

"Then you must, Jimmy. I daresay you'll 
do. Jump back quickly before she can hit you." 
" She won't hit him, he's such a little chap," 
said Gerald. 

" Little yourself ! " said Jimmy. " /don't mind 
kissing her. I'm not a coward, like Some People. 
Only if I do, I'm going to be the dauntless leader 
for the rest of the day." 

" No, look here — hold on ! " cried Gerald, 



" perhaps I'd better But, in the meantime, 

Jimmy had planted a loud, cheerful-sounding 
kiss on the Princess's pale cheek, and now the 
three stood breathless, awaiting the result. 

And the result was that the Princess opened 
large, dark eyes, stretched out her arms, yawned 
a little, covering her mouth with a small brown 
hand, and said, quite plainly and distinctly, and 
without any room at all for mistake : — 

"Then the hundred years are over? How the 
yew hedges have grown ! Which of you is my 
Prince that aroused me from my deep sleep of so 
many long years ? " 

" I did," said Jimmy fearlessly, for she did not 
look as though she were going to slap any one. 

" My noble preserver ! " said the Princess, and 
held out her hand. Jimmy shook it vigorously. 

" But I say," said he, " you aren't really a 
Princess, are you V " 

" Of course I am," she answered ; " who else 
could I be ? Look at my crown ! " She pulled 
aside the spangled veil, and showed beneath it 
a coronet of what even Jimmy could not help 
seeing to be diamonds. 

" But " said Jimmy. 

" Why," she said, opening her eyes very wide, 
" you must have known about my being here, or 
you'd never have come. How did you get past 
the dragons ? " 

Gerald ignored the question. " I say," he said, 
" do you really believe in magic, and all that ? " 

" I ought to," she said, " if anybody does. 
Look, here's the place where I pricked my finger 


with the spindle." She showed a little scar on 
her wrist. 

" Then this really is an enchanted castle? " 

" Of course it is," said the Princess. " How 
stupid you are ! " She stood up, and her pink 
brocaded dress lay in bright waves about her 

" I said her dress would be too long," said 

" It was the right length when I went to 
sleep," said the Princess ; " it must have grown 
in the hundred years." 

" I don't believe you're a Princess at all," said 
Jimmy ; " at least " 

" Don't bother about believing it, if you don't 
like," said the Princess. " It doesn't so much 
matter what you believe as what I am." She 
turned to the others. 

" Let's go back to the castle," she said, " and 
I'll show you all my lovely jewels and things. 
Wouldn't you like that ? " 

" Yes," said Gerald with very plain hesitation. 
" But " 

"But what?" The Princess's tone was im- 

" But we're most awfully hungry." 

" Oh, so am I ! " cried the Princess. 

" We've had nothing to eat since breakfast." 

" And it's three now," said the Princess, 
looking at the sun-dial. " Why, you've had 
nothing to eat for hours and hours and hours. 
But think of me! I haven't had anything to eat 
for a hundred years. Come along to the castle." 


" The mice will have eaten everything," said 
Jimmy sadly. He saw now that she really trds 
a Princess. 

" Not they," cried the Princess joyously. 
"You forget everything's enchanted here. 
Time simply stood still for a hundred years. 
Come along, and one of you must carry my 
train, or I shan't he able to move now it's grown 
such a frightful length." 


When you are young so many things are 
difficult to believe, and yet the dullest people 
will tell you that they are true — such things, 
for instance, as that the earth goes round 
the sun, and that it is not flat but round. 
But the things that seem really likely, like 
fairy-tales and magic, are, so say the grown- 
ups, not true at all. Yet they are so easy 
to believe, especially when you see them 
happening. And, as I am always telling you, 
the most wonderful things happen to all sorts 
of people, only you never hear about them 
because the people think that no one will 
believe their stories, and so they don't tell 
them to any one except me. And they tell 
me, because they know that I can believe 

When Jimmy had awakened the Sleeping 
Princess, and she had invited the three children 
to go with her to her palace and get something 
to eat, they all knew quite surely that they 
had come into a place of magic happenings. 
And they walked in a slow procession along 
the grass towards the castle. The Princess 



went first, and Kathleen carried her shining 
train ; then came Jimmy, and Gerald came 
last. They were all quite sure that they had 
walked right into the middle of a fairy tale, 
and they were the more ready to helieve 
it because they were so tired and hungry. 
They were, in fact, so hungry and tired that 
they hardly noticed where they were going, 
or observed the beauties of the formal gardens 
through which the pink-silk Princess was lead- 
ing them. They were in a sort of dream, 
from which they only partially awakened to 
find themselves in a big hall, with suits of 
armour and old flags round the walls, the 
skins of beasts on the floor, and heavy oak 
tables and benches ranged along it. 

The Princess entered, slow and stately, but 
once inside she twitched her sheeny train out 
of Jimmy's hand and turned to the three. 

" You just wait here a minute," she said, 
" and mind you don't talk while I'm away. 
This castle is crammed with magic, and I 
don't know what will happen if you talk." 
And with that, picking* up the thick goldy- 
pink folds under her arms, she ran out, as 
Jimmy said afterwards, " most unprincesslike," 
showing as she ran black stockings and black 
strap shoes. 

Jimmy wanted very much to say that he 
didn't believe anything would happen, only he 
was afraid something would happen if he did, 
so he merely made a face and put out his 
tongue. The others pretended not to see this, 


which was much more crushing than anything 
they could have said. So they sat in silence, 
and Gerald ground the heel of his boot upon 
the marble floor. Then the Princess came back, 
very slowly and kicking her long skirts in front 
of her at every step. She could not hold them 
up now because of the tray she carried. 

It was not a silver tray, as you might have 
expected, but an oblong tin one. She set it 
down noisily on the end of the long table and 
breathed a sigh of relief. 

" Oh ! it was heavy," she said. I don't know 
what fairy feast the children's fancy had been 
busy with. Anyhow, this was nothing like it. 
The heavy tray held a loaf of bread, a lump of 
cheese, and a brown jug of water. The rest of 
its heaviness was just plates and mugs and 

fc ' Come along," said the Princess hospitably. 
"I couldn't find anything but bread and cheese 
— but it doesn't matter, because everything's 
magic here, and unless you have some dreadful 
secret fault the bread and cheese will turn into 
anything you like. What would you like ? " she 
asked Kathleen. 

" Roast chicken," said Kathleen, without hesi- 

The pinky Princess cut a slice of bread and 
laid it on a dish. " There you are," she said, 
" roast chicken. Shall I carve it, or will 
you ? 

" You, please," said Kathleen, and received 
a piece of dry bread on a plate. 


" Green peas ? " asked the Princess, cut a 
piece of cheese and laid it beside the bread. 

Kathleen began to eat the bread, cutting it 
up with knife and fork as you would eat 
chicken. It was no use owning that she didn't 
see any chicken and peas, or anything but cheese 
and dry bread, because that would be owning 
that she had some dreadful secret fault. 

" If I have, it is a secret, even from me," she 
told herself. 

The others asked for roast beef and cabbage — 
and got it, she supposed, though to her it only 
looked like dry bread and Dutch cheese. 

" I do wonder what my dreadful secret fault 
is," she thought, as the Princess remarked that, 
as for her, she could fancy a slice of roast 
peacock. " This one," she added, lifting a 
second mouthful of dry bread on her fork, "is 
quite delicious." 

"It's a game, isn't it?" asked Jimmy sud- 

" What's a game ? " asked the Princess, frown- 

" Pretending it's beef — the bread and cheese, 
I mean." 

" A game ? But it is beef. Look at it," 
said the Princess, opening her eyes very wide. 

"Yes, of course," said Jimmy feebly. "I was 
only joking." 

Bread and cheese is not perhaps so good as 
roast beef or chicken or peacock (I'm not sure 
about the j)eacock. I never tasted peacock, 
did you ?) ; but bread and cheese is, at any rate, 

^=7* < 


very much better than nothing when you have 
gone on having nothing since breakfast (goose- 
berries and gingerbeer hardly count) and it is 
long past your proper dinner-time. Every one 
ate and drank and felt much better. 

" Now," said the Princess, brushing the bread- 
crumbs off her green silk lap, " if you're sure 
you won't have any more meat you can come 
and see my treasures. Sure you won't take 
the least bit more chicken ? No ? Then follow 

She got up and they followed her down the 
long hall to the end where the great stone 
stairs ran up at each side and joined in a broad 
flight leading to the gallery above. Under the 
stairs was a hanging of tapestry. 

" Beneath this arras," said the Princess, " is 
the door leading to my private apartments." 
She held the tapestry up with both hands, for 
it was heavy, and showed a little door that 
had been hidden by it. 

" The key," she said, " hangs above." 

And so it did, on a large rusty nail. 

" Put it in," said the Princess, " and turn it." 

Gerald did so, and the great key creaked and 
grated in the lock. 

" Now push," she said ; " push hard, all of 

They pushed hard, all of them. The door 
gave way, and they fell over each other into 
the dark space beyond. 

The Princess dropped the curtain and came 
after them, closing the door behind her. 



"Lookout!" she said; "look out! there are 
two steps down." 

" Thank you," said Gerald, rubbing his knee 
at the bottom of the steps. " We found that 
out for ourselves." 

" I'm sorry," said the Princess, " but you can't 
have hurt yourselves much. Go straight on. 
There aren't any more steps." 

They went straight on — in the dark. 

" When you come to the door just turn the 
handle and go in. Then stand still till I find 
the matches. I know where they are." 

" Did they have matches a hundred years 
ago ? " asked Jimmy. 

" I meant the tinder-box," said the Princess 
quickly. " We always called it the matches. 
Don't you ? Here, let me go first." 

She did, and when they had reached the door 
she was waiting for them with a candle in her 
hand. She thrust it on Gerald. 

" Hold it steady," she said, and undid the 
shutters of a long window, so that first a 
yellow streak and then a blazing great oblong 
of light flashed at them and the room was full 
of sunshine. 

" It makes the candle look quite silly," said 

" So it does," said the Princess, and blew out 
the candle. Then she took the key from the 
outside of the door, put it in the inside key- 
hole, and turned it. 

The room they were in was small and high. 
Its domed ceiling was of deep blue with gold 



stars painted on it. The walls were of wood, 
panelled and carved, and there was no furniture 
in it whatever. 

" This," said the Princess, " is my treasure 

" But where," asked Kathleen politely, " are 
the treasures ? " 

"Don't you see them?" asked the Princess. 

" No, we don't," said Jimmy bluntly. " You 
don't come that bread-and-cheese game with 
me — not twice over, you don't ! " 

"If you really don't see them," said the 
Princess, " I suppose I shall have to say the 
charm. Shut your eyes, please. And give me 
your word of honour you won't look till I tell 
you, and that you'll never tell any one what 
you've seen." 

Their words of honour were something that 
the children would rather not have given just 
then, but they gave them all the same, and 
shut their eyes tight. 

" Wiggadil yougadoo begadee leegadeeve 
nowgadow ? " said the Princess rapidly ; and 
they heard the swish of her silk train moving 
across the room. Then there was a creaking, 
rustling noise. 

" She's locking us in ! " cried Jimmy. 
" Your word of honour," gasped Gerald. 
" Oh, do be quick ! " moaned Kathleen. 
" You may look," said the voice of the 
Princess. And they looked. The room was 
not the same room, yet — yes, the starry-vaulted 
blue ceiling was there, and below it half a dozen 


feet of the dark panelling, but below that the 
walls of the room blazed and sparkled with 
white and bine and red and green and gold and 
silver. Shelves ran round the room, and on them 
were gold cnps and silver dishes, and platters 
and goblets set with gems, ornaments of gold 
and silver, tiaras of diamonds, necklaces of 
rubies, strings of emeralds and pearls, all set 
out in unimaginable splendour against a back- 
ground of faded blue velvet. It was like the 
Crown jewels that you see when your kind uncle 
takes you to the Tower, only there seemed to 
be far more jewels than you or any one else has 
ever seen together at the Tower or anywhere else. 

The three children remained breathless, open- 
mouthed, staring at the sparkling splendours all 
about them, while the Princess stood, her arm 
stretched out in a gesture of command, and 
a proud smile on her lips. 

" My word ! " said Gerald, in a low whisper. 
But no one spoke out loud. They waited as if 
spellbound for the Princess to speak. 

She spoke. 

" What price bread-and-cheese games now ? " 
she asked triumphantly. " Can I do magic, or 
can't I ? " 

You can ; oh, you can ! " said Kathleen. 

" May we — may we touch ? " asked Gerald. 

" All that is mine is yours," said the Princess, 
with a generous wave of her brown hand, and 
added quickly, " Only, of course, you mustn't take 
anything away with you." 

" We're not thieves ! " said Jimmy. The others 


were already busy turning over the wonderful 
things on the blue velvet shelves. 

" Perhaps not," said the Princess, " but you're 
a very unbelieving little boy. You think I can't 
see inside you, but I can. / know what you've 
been thinking." 

" What ? " asked Jimmy. 

" Oh, you know well enough," said the Princess. 
" You're thinking about the bread and cheese 
that I changed into beef, and about your secret 
fault. I say, let's all dress up and you be princes 
and princesses too." 

" To crown our hero," said Gerald, lifting a 
gold crown with a cross on the top, " was the 
work of a moment." He put the crown on his 
head, and added a collar of SS and a zone of 
sparkling emeralds, which would not quite meet 
round his middle. He turned from fixing it 
by an ingenious adaptation of his belt to find 
the others already decked with diadems, neck- 
laces, and rings. 

" How splendid you look ! " said the Princess, 
"and how I wish your clothes were prettier. 
What ugly clothes people wear nowadays ! A 
hundred years ago " 

Kathleen stood quite still with a diamond 
bracelet raised in her hand. 

" I say," she said. " The King and Queen ? " 

" What King and Queen ? " asked the Princess. 

" Your father and mother, your sorrowing 
parents," said Kathleen. " They'll have waked 
up by now. Won't they be wanting to see you, 
after a hundred years, you know ? " 


" Oh — ah — yes," said the Princess slowly. " I 
embraced my rejoicing parents when I got the 
bread and cheese. They're having their dinner. 
They won't expect me yet. Here," she added, 
hastily putting a ruby bracelet on Kathleen's 
arm, " see how splendid that is ! " 

Kathleen would have been quite content to go 
on all day trying on different jewels and looking 
at herself in the little silver-framed mirror that 
the Princess took from one of the shelves, but 
the boys were soon weary of this amusement. 

" Look here," said Gerald, " if you're sure your 
father and mother won't want you, let's go out 
and have a jolly good game of something. You 
could play besieged castles awfully well in that 
maze — unless you can do any more magic 

"You forget," said the Princess, "I'm grown 
up. I don't play games, And I don't like to do 
too much magic at a time, it's so tiring. Be- 
sides, it'll take us ever so long to put all these 
things back in their proper places." 

It did. The children would have laid the 
jewels just anywhere ; but the Princess showed 
them that every necklace, or ring, or bracelet 
had its own home on the velvet — a slight 
hollowing in the shelf beneath, so that each 
stone fitted into its own little nest. 

As Kathleen was fitting the last shining 
ornament into its proper place, she saw that 
part of the shelf near it held, not bright 
jewels, but rings and brooches and chains, as 
well as queer things that she did not know 


the names of, and all were of dull metal and 
odd shapes. 

" What's all this rubbish ? " she asked. 

"Rubbish, indeed!" said the Princess. "Why 
those are all magic things ! This bracelet — any 
one who wears it has got to speak the truth. 
This chain makes you as strong as ten men ; if 
you wear this spur your horse will go a mile a 
minute ; or if you're walking it's the same as 
seven-league boots." 

"What does this brooch do?" asked Kathleen, 
reaching out her hand. The Princess caught her 
by the wrist. 

" You mustn't touch," she said ; " if any one 
but me touches them all the magic goes out at 
once and never comes back. That brooch will 
give you any wish you like." 

" And this ring ? " Jimmy pointed. 

" Oh, that makes you invisible." 

"What's this'?" asked Gerald, showing a 
curious buckle. 

" Oh, that undoes the effect of all the other 

" Do you mean really ! " Jimmy asked. 
" You're not just kidding ? " 

" Kidding indeed ! " repeated the Princess 
scornfully. " I should have thought I'd shown 
you enough magic to prevent you speaking to 
a Princess like that ! " 

" I say," said Gerald, visibly excited. " You 
might show us how some of the things act. 
Couldn't you give us each a wish ? " 

The Princess did not at once answer. And 


the minds of the three played -with granted 
wishes— brilliant yet thoroughly reasonable — 
the kind of wish that never seems to occur to 
people in fairy tales when they suddenly get a 
chance to have their three wishes granted. 

" No," said the Princess suddenly, "no; I can't 
give wishes to you, it only gives me wishes. 
But I'll let you see the ring make me invisible. 
Only you must shut your eyes while I do it." 

They shut them. 

" Count fifty," said the Princess, " and then 
you may look. And then you must shut them 
again, and count fifty, and I'll reappear." 

Gerald counted, aloud. Through the counting 
one could hear a creaking, rustling sound. 

"Forty-seven, forty-eight, forty-nine, fifty!" 
said Gerald, and they opened their eyes. 

They were alone in the room. The jewels had 
vanished and so had the Princess. 

" She's gone out by the door, of course," said 
Jimmy, but the door was locked. 

" That is magic," said Kathleen breathlessly. 

" Maskelyne and Devant can do that trick," 
said Jimmy. " And I want my tea." 

" Your tea ! " Gerald's tone was full of con- 
tempt. "The lovely Princess," he went on, 
" reappeared as soon as our hero had finished 
counting fifty. One, two, three, four " 

Gerald and Kathleen had both closed their 
eyes. But somehow Jimmy hadn't. He didn't 
mean to cheat, he just forgot. And as Gerald's 
count reached twenty he saw a panel under the 
window open slowly. 


"Her," ho said to himself. "I knew it was 
a trick ! " and at once shut his eyes, like an 
honourable little boy. 

On the word "fifty" six eyes opened. And 
the panel was closed and there was no Princess. 

" She hasn't pulled it off this time," said 

" Perhaps you'd better count again," said 

" I believe there's a cupboard under the 
window," said Jimmy, " and she's hidden in it. 
Secret panel, you know." 

" You looked ! that's cheating," said the voice 
of the Princess so close to his ear that he quite 

" I didn't cheat." 

" Where on earth What ever- " said all 

three together. For still there was no Princess 
to be seen. 

" Come back visible, Princess dear," said 
Kathleen. " Shall Ave shut our eyes and count 
again r 

" Don't be silly ! " said the voice of the Princess, 
and it sounded very cross. 

" We're not silly," said Jimmy, and his voice 
was cross too. " Why can't you come back and 
have done with it? You know you're only 

"Don't!" said Kathleen gently. "She is in- 
visible, you know." 

" So should I be if I got into the cupboard," 
said Jimmy. 

" Oh yes," said the sneering tone of the 


Princess, " you think yourselves very clever, I 
dare say. But / don't mind. We'll play that 
you cant see me, if you like." 

" Well, but we cant" said Gerald. " It's no use 
getting in a wax. If you're hiding, as Jimmy 
says, you'd better come out. If you've really 
turned invisible, you'd better make yourself 
visible again." 

" Do you really mean," asked a voice quite 
changed, but still the Princess's, " that you caiit 
see me ? " 

" Can't you see we can't? " asked Jimmy rather 

The sun was blazing in at the window ; the 
eight-sided room was very hot, and every one 
was getting cross. 

" You can't see me ? " There was the sound of 
a sob in the voice of the invisible Princess. 

" No, I tell you," said Jimmy, " and I want my 
tea — and " 

What he was saying was broken off short, as 
one might break a stick of sealing wax. And 
then in the golden afternoon a really quite 
horrid thing happened : Jimmy suddenly leaned 
backwards, then forwards, his eyes opened wide 
and his mouth too. Backward and forward he 
went, very quickly and abruptly, then stood still. 

" Oh, he's in a fit ! Oh, Jimmy, dear Jimmy ! " 
cried Kathleen, hurrying to him. " What is it, 
dear, what is it ? " 

" It's not a fit," gasped Jimmy angrily. " She 
shook me." 

" Yes," said the voice of the Princess, " and 



I'll shake him again if he keeps on saying he 
can't see me." 

" You'd better shake ?ne," said Gerald angrily. 
" I'm nearer your own size." 

And instantly she did. But not for long. 
The moment Gerald felt hands on his shoulders 
he put up his own and caught those other hands 
by the wrists. And there he was, holding wrists 
that he couldn't see. It was a dreadful sensa- 
tion. An invisible kick made him wince, but 
he held tight to the wrists. 

" Cathy," he cried, " come and hold her legs ; 
she's kicking me." 

" Where ? " cried Kathleen, anxious to help. 
" I don't see any legs." 

" This is her hands I've got," cried Gerald. 
" She is invisible right enough. Get hold of this 
hand, and then you can feel your way down to 
her legs." 

Kathleen did so. I wish I could make you 
understand how very, very uncomfortable and 
frightening it is to feel, in broad daylight, 
hands and arms that you can't see. 

" 1 wont have you hold my legs," said the 
invisible Princess, struggling violently. 

" What are you so cross about? " Gerald was 
quite calm. "You said you'd be invisible, and 
you are." 

" I'm not." 

"You are really. Look in the glass. 

" I'm not ; I can't be." 

"Look in the glass," Gerald repeated, quite 


" Let go, then," she said. 

Gerald did, and the moment he had done so 
he found it impossible to believe that he really 
had been holding invisible hands. 

" You're just pretending- not to see me," said 
the Princess anxiously, " aren't you ? Do say 
you are. You've had your joke with me. Don't 
keep it up. I don't like it." 

" On our sacred word of honour," said Gerald, 
"you're still invisible." 

There was a silence. Then, " Come," said the 
Princess. " I'll let you out, and you can go. 
I'm tired of playing with you." 

They followed her voice to the door, and 
through it, and along the little passage into the 
hall. No one said anything. Every one felt 
very uncomfortable. 

"Let's get out of this," whispered Jimmy as 
they got to the end of the hall. 

But the voice of the Princess said : " Come 
out this way ; it's quicker. I think you're per- 
fectly hateful. I'm sorry I ever played with 
you. Mother always told me not to play with 
strange children." 

A door abruptly opened, though no hand was 
seen to touch it. " Come through, can't you ! " 
said the voice of the Princess. 

It was a little ante-room, with long, narrow 
mirrors between its long, narrow windows. 

" Goodbye," said Gerald. "Thanks for giving 
us such a jolly time. Let's part friends," he 
added, holding out his hand. 

An unseen hand w r as slowly put in his, which 
closed on it. vice-like. 


" Now," lie said, " you've jolly well got to look 
in the glass and own that we're not liars." 

He led the invisible Princess to one of the 
mirrors, and held her in front of it by the 

" Now," he said, " you just look for yourself." 

There was a silence, and then a cry of despair 
rang through the room. 

" Oh — oh — oh ! I am invisible. Whatever 
shall I do ? " 

'• Take the ring off," said Kathleen, suddenly 

Another silence. 

" I cant ! " cried the Princess. " It won't come 
off. But it can't be the ring ; rings don't make 
you invisible." 

" You said this one did," said Kathleen, " and 
it has." 

" But it caiit" said the Princess. " I was only 
playing at magic. I just hid in the secret cup- 
board — it was only a game. Oh, whatever shall 
I do?" 

" A game? " said Gerald slowly ; " but you can 
do magic — the invisible jewels, and you made 
them come visible." 

" Oh, it's only a secret spring and the panel- 
ling slides up. Oh, what am I to do ? " 

Kathleen moved towards the voice and 
gropingly got her arms round a pink-silk 
waist that she couldn't see. Invisible arms 
clasped her, a hot invisible cheek was laid 
against hers, and warm invisible tears lay wet 
between the two faces. 


" Don't cry, dear," said Kathleen ; " let me go 
and tell the King and Queen." 

"The ?" 

" Your royal father and mother." 

" Oh, dont mock me ! " said the poor Princess. 
"You know that was only a game, too, like " 

" Like the bread and cheese," said Jimmy 
triumphantly. " I knew that was ! " 

" But your dress and being asleep in the 
maze, and " 

" Oh, I dressed up for fun, because every 
one's away at the fair, and I put the clue just 
to make it all more real. I was playing at Fair 
Rosamond first, and then I heard you talking 
in the maze, and I thought what fun ; and now 
I'm invisible, and I shall never come right again, 
never — I know I shan't ! It serves me right for 
lying, but I didn't really think you'd believe it — 
not more than half, that is," she added hastily, 
trying to be truthful. 

" But if you're not the Princess, who are 
you ? ' asked Kathleen, still embracing the 

" I'm — my aunt lives here," said the invisible 
Princess. "She may be home any time. Oh, 
what shall I do ? " 

" Perhaps she knows some charm " 

" Oh, nonsense ! " said the voice sharply ; " she 
doesn't believe in charms. She would be so 
vexed. Oh, I daren't let her see me like this ! " 
she added wildly. " And all of you here, too 
She'd be so dreadfully cross." 

The beautiful magic castle that the children 


had believed in now felt as though it were 
tumbling about their ears. All that was left 
was the invisibleness of the Princess. But that, 
you will own, was a gcfod deal. 

"I just said it," moaned the voice, "and it 
came true. I wish I'd never played at magic — 
I wish I'd never played at anything at all." 

" Oh, don't say that," Gerald said kindly. 
" Let's go out into the garden, near the lake, 
where it's cool, and we'll hold a solemn council. 
You'll like that, won't you ? " 

"Oh!" cried Kathleen suddenly, "the buckle; 
that makes magic come undone ! " 

" It doesn't really" murmured the voice that 
seemed to speak without lips. " I only just said 

" You only ' just said ' about the ring," said 
Gerald. " Anyhow, let's try." 

" Not you — me" said the voice. " You go 
down to the Temple of Flora, by the lake. 
I'll go back to the jewel-room by myself. Aunt 
might see you." 

" She won't see you" said Jimmy. 

" Don't rub it in," said Gerald. " Where is 
the Temple of Flora ? " 

" That's the way," the voice said ; " down 
those steps and along the winding path through 
the shrubbery. You can't miss it. It's white 
marble, with a statue goddess inside." 

The three children went down to the white 
marble Temple of Flora that stood close against 
the side of the little hill, and sat down in its 
shadowy inside. It had arches all round 


except against the hill behind the statue, and 
it was cool and restful. 

They had not been there five minutes before 
the feet of a runner sounded loud on the gravel. 
A shadow, very black and distinct, fell on the 
white marble floor. 

" Your shadows not invisible anyhow," said 

" Oh, bother my shadow ! " the voice of the 
Princess replied. " We left the key inside the 
door, and it's shut itself with the wind, and it's 
a spring lock ! " 

There was a heartfelt pause. 

Then Gerald said, in his most business-like 
manner : 

" Sit down, Princess, and we'll have a thorough 
good palaver about it." 

" I shouldn't wonder," said Jimmy, " if we was 
to wake up and find it was dreams." 

" No such luck," said the voice. 

"Well," said Gerald, "first of all, what's 
your name, and if you're not a Princess, who 
are you ? " 

" I'm — I'm," said a voice broken with sobs, 
"I'm the — housekeeper's — niece — at — the — castle 
— and my name's Mabel Prowse." 

" That's exactly what I thought," said Jimmy, 
without a shadow of truth, because how could 
he ? The others were silent. It was a moment 
full of agitation and confused ideas. 

" Well, anyhow," said Gerald, " you belong 

fl Yes," said the voice, and it came from 



the floor, as though its owner had flung 
herself down in the madness of despair. 
"Oh yes, I belong here right enough, but 
what's the use of belonging anywhere if 
you're invisible ? " 


Those of my readers who have gone about 
much with an invisible companion will not need 
to be told how awkward the whole business is. 
For one thing, however much you may have 
been convinced that your companion is invisible, 
you will, I feel sure, have found yourself every 
now and then saying, " This must be a dream ! " 
or "I know I shall wake up in half a sec ! " And 
this was the case with Gerald, Kathleen, and 
Jimmy as they sat in the white marble Temple 
of Flora, looking out through its arches at the 
sunshiny park and listening to the voice of 
the enchanted Princess, who really was not a 
Princess at all, but just the housekeeper's niece, 
Mabel Prowse ; though, as Jimmy said, " she 
was enchanted, right enough." 

" It's no use talking," she said again and 
again, and the voice came from an empty-look- 
ing space between two pillars ; "I never believed 
anything would happen, and now it has." 

" Well," said Gerald kindly, " can we do 
anything for you ? Because, if not, I think 
we ought to be going." 

" Yes," said Jimmy ; " I do want my tea ! " 



" Tea ! " said the unseen Mabel scornfully. 
" Do you mean to say you'd go off to your 
teas and leave me after getting me into this 
mess t 

" Well, of all the unfair Princesses I ever 
met ! " Gerald began. But Kathleen inter- 

" Oh, don't rag her," she said. " Think how 
horrid it must be to be invisible ! " 

" I don't think," said the hidden Mabel, " that 
my aunt likes me very much as it is. She 
wouldn't let me go to the fair because I'd 
forgotten to put back some old trumpery 
shoe that Queen Elizabeth wore — I got it out 
from the glass case to try it on." 

"Did it fit?" asked Kathleen, with interest. 

" Not it — much too small," said Mabel. " I 
don't believe it ever fitted any one." 

" I do want my tea ! " said Jimmy. 

" I do really think perhaps we ought to go," 
said Gerald. " You see, it isn't as if we could 
do anything for you." 

" You'll have to tell your aunt," said Kath- 
leen kindly. 

"No, do, no!" moaned Mabel invisibly; 
" take me with you. I'll leave her a note to 
say I've run away to sea." 

"Girls don't run away to sea." 

" They might," said the stone floor between 
the pillars, "as stowaways, if nobody wanted 
a cabin boy — cabin girl, I mean." 

" I'm sure you oughtn't," said Kathleen 


"Well, what am I to do?" 

" Really," said Gerald, " I don't know what 
the girl can do. Let her come home with us 
and have " 

" Tea — oh, yes," said Jimmy, jumping up. 

" And have a good council." 

" After tea," said Jimmy. 

" But her aunt '11 find she's gone." 

" So she would if I stayed." 

" Oh, come on," said Jimmy. 

" But the aunt '11 think something's happened 
to her." 

"So it has." 

" And she'll tell the police, and they'll look 
everywhere for me." 

" They'll never find you," said Gerald. " Talk 
of impenetrable disguises ! " 

" I'm sure," said Mabel, " aunt would much 
rather never see me again than see me like 
this. She'd never get over it ; it might kill 
her — she has spasms as it is. I'll write to 
her, and we'll put it in the big letter-box at 
the gate as we go out. Has any one got a 
bit of pencil and a scrap of paper ? " 

Gerald had a note-book, with leaves of the 
shiny kind which you have to write on, not 
with a blacklead pencil, but with an ivory 
thing with a point of real lead. And it won't 
write on any other paper except the kind 
that is in the book, and this is often very 
annoying when you are in a hurry. Then 
was seen the strange spectacle of a little 
ivory stick, with a leaden point, standing up at 


an odd, impossible-looking slant, and moving 
along all by itself as ordinary pencils do when 
yon are writing with them. 

"May we look over?" asked Kathleen. 

There was no answer. The pencil went on 

" Mayn't we look over ? " Kathleen said 

" Of course yon may ! " said the voice near 
the paper. " I nodded, didn't I ? Oh, I forgot, 
my nodding's invisible too." 

The pencil was forming round, clear letters 
on the page torn out of the note-book. This 
is what it wrote : — 

" Dear Aunt, — 

" I am afraid you will not see me again for 
some time. A lady in a motor-car has adopted 
me, and we are going straight to the coast and 
then in a ship. It is useless to try to follow 
me. Farewell, and may you be happy. I 
hope you enjoyed the fair. 

" Mabel." 

" But that's all lies," said Jimmy bluntly. 

"No, it isn't; it's fancy," said Mabel. "If 
I said I've become invisible, she'd think that 
was a lie, anyhow." 

" Oh, come along," said Jimmy ; " you can 
quarrel just as well walking." 

Gerald folded up the note as a lady in 
India had taught him to do years before, and 
Mabel led them by another and very much 


nearer way out of the park. And the walk 
home was a great deal shorter, too, than the 
walk out had heen. 

The sky had clouded over while they were 
in the Temple of Flora, and the first spots of 
rain fell as they got back to the house, very 
late indeed for tea. 

Mademoiselle was looking out of the win- 
dow, and came herself to open the door. 

" But it is that you are in lateness, in 
lateness!" she cried. "You have had a mis- 
fortune — no? All goes well?" 

" We are very sorry indeed," said Gerald. 
" It took us longer to get home than we ex- 
pected. I do hope you haven't been anxious. 
I have been thinking about you most of the 
way home." 

" Go, then," said the French lady, smiling ; 
"you shall have them in the same time — the 
tea and the supper." 

Which they did. 

" How could you say you were thinking 
about her all the time?" said a voice just by 
Gerald's ear, when Mademoiselle had left them 
alone with the bread and butter and milk and 
baked apples. "It was just as much a lie as 
me being adopted by a motor lady." 

" No, it wasn't," said Gerald, through bread 
and butter. " I was thinking about whether 
she'd be in a wax or not. So there ! " 

There were only three plates, but Jimmy 
let Mabel have his, and shared with Kath- 
leen. It was rather horrid to see the bread 


and butter waving about in the air, and bite 
after bite disappearing* from it apparently by 
no human agency ; and the spoon rising with 
apple in it and returning to the plate empty. 
Even the tip of the spoon disappeared as long- 
as it was in Mabel's unseen mouth ; so that 
at times it looked as though its bowl had 
been broken off. 

Every one was very hungry, and more 
bread and butter had to be fetched. Cook 
grumbled when the plate was filled for the 
third time. 

" I tell you what," said Jimmy ; " I did want 
my tea." 

" I tell you what," said Gerald ; " it'll be jolly 
difficult to give Mabel any breakfast. Made- 
moiselle will be here then. She'd have a fit 
if she saw bits of forks with bacon on them 
vanishing, and then the forks coming back 
out of vanishment, and the bacon lost for 

" We shall have to buy things to eat and 
feed our poor captive in secret," said Kath- 

" Our money won't last long," said Jimmy, 
in gloom. "Have you got any money?" 

He turned to where a mug of milk was 
suspended in the air without visible means of 

" I've not got much money," was the reply 
from near the milk, " but I've got heaps of 

" We must talk about everything in the 


morning," said Kathleen. " We must just say 

good-night to Mademoiselle, and then you 
shall sleep in my bed, Mabel. I'll lend you 
one of my nightgowns." 

" I'll get my own to-morrow," said Mabel 

"You'll go back to get things?" 

" Why not ? Nobody can see me. I think 
I begin to see all sorts of amusing things 
coming along. It's not half bad being in- 

It was extremely odd, Kathleen thought, to 
see the Princess's clothes coming out of no- 
thing. First the gauzy veil appeared hanging 
in the air. Then the sparkling coronet sud- 
denly showed on the top of the chest of 
drawers. Then a sleeve of the pinky gown 
showed, then another, and then the whole 
gown lay on the floor in a glistening ring as 
the unseen legs of Mabel stepped out of it. 
For each article of clothing became visible as 
Mabel took it off. The nightgown, lifted from 
the bed, disappeared a bit at a time. 

" Get into bed," said Kathleen, rather ner- 

The bed creaked and a hollow appeared in 
the pillow. Kathleen put out the gas and 
got into bed ; all this magic had been rather 
upsetting, and she was just the least bit 
frightened, but in the dark she found it was 
not so bad. Mabel's arms went round her 
neck the moment she got into bed, and the 
two little girls kissed in the kind darkness, 


where the visible and the invisible could meet 
on equal terms. 

" Good-night,'' said Mabel. " You're a dar- 
ling, Cathy ; you've been most awfully good 
to me, and I sha'n't forget it. I didn't like to 
say so before the boys, because I know boys 
think you're a muff if you're grateful. But I 
am. Good-night." 

Kathleen lay awake for some time. She was 
just getting sleepy when she remembered that 
the maid who would call them in the morning 
would see those wonderful Princess clothes. 

" I'll have to get up and hide them," she said. 
" What a bother ! " 

And as she lay thinking what a bother it was 
she happened to fall asleep, and when she woke 
again it was bright morning, and Eliza was 
standing in front of the chair where Mabel's 
clothes lay, gazing at the pink Princess-frock 
that lay on the top of her heap and saying, 
" Law ! " 

"Oh, don't touch, please /" Kathleen leaped 
out of bed as Eliza was reaching out her hand. 

" Where on earth did you get hold of that ? " 

" We're going to use it for acting," said 
Kathleen, on the desperate inspiration of the 
moment. " It's lent me for that." 

" You might show me, miss," suggested Eliza. 

" Oh, please not ! " said Kathleen, standing in 
front of the chair in her nightgown. "You 
shall see us act when we are dressed up. There ! 
And you won't tell any one, will you ? " 

" Not if you're a good little girl," said Eliza. 


"But you be sure to let me see when you do 
dress up. But where " 

Here a bell rang and Eliza had to go, for it 
was the postman, and she particularly wanted to 
see him. 

" And now," said Kathleen, pulling on her 
first stocking, " we shall have to do the acting. 
Everything seems very difficult." 

" Acting isn't," said Mabel ; and an unsupported 
stocking waved in the air and quickly vanished. 
" I shall love it." 

"You forget," said Kathleen gently, "invisible 
actresses can't take part in plays unless they're 
magic ones." 

" Oh," cried a voice from under a petticoat that 
hung in the air, " I've got such an idea ! " 

"Tell it us after breakfast," said Kathleen, as 
the water in the basin began to splash about and 
to drip from nowhere back into itself. " And 
oh! I do wish you hadn't written such whoppers 
to your aunt. I'm sure we oughtn't to tell lies 
for anything." 

" What's the use of telling the truth if 
nobody believes you ? " came from among the 

" I don't know," said Kathleen, " but I'm sure 
we ought to tell the truth." 

"You can, if you like," said a voice from the 
folds of a towel that waved lonely in front of 
the wash-hand stand. 

"All right. We will, then, first thing after 
brek — your brek, I mean. You'll have to wait 
up here till we can collar something and bring 


it up to you. Mind you dodge Eliza when she 
comes to make the bed." 

The invisible Mabel found this a fairly amusing 
game ; she further enlivened it by twitching out 
the corners of tucked-up sheets and blankets 
when Eliza wasn't looking. 

" Drat the clothes ! " said Eliza ; " anyone ud 
think the things was bewitched." 

She looked about for the wonderful Princess 
clothes she had glimpsed earlier in the morning. 
But Kathleen had hidden them in a perfectly 
safe place — under the mattress, which she knew 
Eliza never turned. 

Eliza hastily brushed up from the floor those 
bits of fluff which come from goodness knows 
where in the best regulated houses. Mabel, very 
hungry and exasperated at the long absence of 
the others at their breakfast, could not forbear 
to whisper suddenly in Eliza's ear : — 

" Always sweep under the mats." 

The maid started and turned pale. " I must 
be going silly," she murmured ; "though it's just 
what mother always used to say. Hope I ain't 
going dotty, like Aunt Emily. Wonderful what 
you can fancy, ain't it ? " 

She took up the hearth-rug all the same, swept 
under it, and under the fender. So thorough 
was she, and so pale, that Kathleen, entering 
with a chunk of bread raided by Gerald from 
the pantry window, exclaimed : — 

" Not done yet. I say, Eliza, you do look ill ! 
What's the matter?" 

"I thought I'd give the room a good turn-out," 
said Eliza, still very pale. 


"Nothing's happened to upset you?" Kathleen 
asked. She had her own private fears. 

" Nothing only my fancy, miss," said Eliza. 
" I always was fanciful from a child — dreaming 
of the pearly gates and them little angels with 
nothing on only their heads and wings — so 
cheap to dress, I always think, compared with 

When she was got rid of, Mabel ate the bread 
and drank water from the tooth-mug. 

" I'm afraid it tastes of cherry tooth-paste 
rather," said Kathleen apologetically. 

" It doesn't matter," a voice replied from the 
tilted mug ; " it's more interesting than water. 
I should think red wine in ballads was rather 
like this." 

" We've got leave for the day again," said 
Kathleen, when the last bit of bread had 
vanished, " and Gerald feels like I do about lies. 
So we're going to tell your aunt where 3011 really 

" She won't believe you." 

" That doesn't matter, if we speak the truth," 
said Kathleen primly. 

" I expect you'll be sorry for it," said Mabel ; 
" but come on — and, I say, do be careful not to 
shut me in the door as you go out. You nearly 
did just now." 

In the blazing sunlight that flooded the High 
Street four shadows to three children seemed 
dangerously noticeable. A butcher's boy looked 
far too earnestly at the extra shadow, and his 
big, liver-coloured lurcher snuffed at the legs of 



that shadow's mistress and whined uncomfort- 

" Get behind me," said Kathleen ; " then our 
two shadows will look like one." 

But Mabel's shadow, very visible, fell on 
Kathleen's back, and the ostler of the Davenant 
Arms looked up to see what big bird had cast 
that big shadow. 

A woman driving a cart with chickens and 
ducks in it called out : — 

" Halloa, missy, ain't you blacked yer 
back neither ! What you been leaning up 
against ? " 

Every one was glad when they got out of the 

Speaking the truth to Mabel's aunt did not 
turn out at all as any one — even Mabel — ex- 
pected. The aunt was discovered reading a pink 
novelette at the window of the housekeeper's 
room, which, framed in clematis and green 
creepers, looked out on a nice little courtyard 
to which Mabel led the party. 

" Excuse me," said Gerald, " but I believe 
you've lost your niece?" 

" Not lost, my boy," said the aunt, who was 
spare and tall, with a drab fringe and a very 
genteel voice. 

" We could tell you something about her," 
said Gerald. 

"Now," replied the aunt, in a warning voice, 
" no complaints, please. My niece has gone, and 
I am sure no one thinks less than I do of bel- 
li ttle pranks. If she's played any tricks on you 



it's only her light-hearted way. Go away, 
children, I'm busy." 

" Did you get her note ? " asked Kathleen. 

The aunt showed rather more interest than 
before, but she still kept her finger in the 

" Oh," she said, " so you witnessed her depar- 
ture ? Did she seem glad to go ? " 

" Quite," said Gerald truthfully. 

" Then I can only be glad that she is provided 
for," said the aunt. " I dare say you were sur- 
prised. These romantic adventures do occur in 
our family. Lord Yalding selected me out of 
eleven applicants for the post of housekeeper 
here. I've not the slightest doubt the child was 
changed at birth and her rich relatives have 
claimed her." 

" But aren't you going to do anything — tell 
the police, or " 

" Shish ! " said Mabel. 

"I won't shish," said Jimmy. " Your Mabel's 
invisible — that's all it is. She's just beside me 

" I detest untruthfulness," said the aunt 
severely, " in all its forms. Will you kindly 
take that little boy away ? I am quite satisfied 
about Mabel." 

"Well" said Gerald, "you are an aunt and no 
mistake ! But what will Mabel's father and 
mother say ? " 

" Mabel's father and mother are dead," said 
the aunt calmly, and a little sob sounded close 
to Gerald's ear. 


" All right," he said, " we'll be off. But don't 
you go saying we didn't tell you the truth, 
that's all." 

" You have told me nothing," said the aunt, 
"none of you, except that little boy, who has 
told me a silly falsehood." 

"We meant well," said Gerald gently. "You 
don't mind our having come through the 
grounds, do you ? We're very careful not to 
touch anything." 

"No visitors are allowed," said the aunt, 
glancing down at her novel rather impatiently. 

" Ah ! but you wouldn't count us visitors," 
said Gerald in his best manner. " We're 
friends of Mabel's. Our father's Colonel of 
the — th." 

" Indeed ! " said the aunt. 

"And our aunt's Lady Sandling, so you can 
be sure we wouldn't hurt anything on the 

" I'm sure you wouldn't hurt a fly," said the 
aunt absently. " Goodbye. Be good children." 

And on this they got away quickly. 

" Why," said Gerald, when they were outside 
the little court, "your aunt's as mad as a hatter. 
Fancy not caring what becomes of you, and 
fancy believing that rot about the motor lady ! " 

" I knew she'd believe it when I wrote it," said 
Mabel modestly. " She's not mad, only she's 
always reading novelettes. / read the books in 
the big library. Oh, it's such a jolly room — 
such a queer smell, like boots, and old leather 
books sort of powdery at the edges. I'll take 


you there some day. Now your consciences are 
all right about my aunt, I'll tell you my great 
idea. Let's get down to the Temple of Flora. 
I'm glad you got aunt's permission for the 
grounds. It would be so awkward for you 
to have to be always dodging behind bushes 
when one of the gardeners came along." 

" Yes," said Gerald modestly, " I thought of 

The day was as bright as yesterday had been, 
and from the white marble temple the Italian- 
looking landscape looked more than ever like 
a steel engraving coloured by hand, or an oleo- 
graphic imitation of one of Turner's pictures. 

When the three children were comfortably 
settled on the steps that led up to the white 
statue, the voice of the fourth child said sadly: 
" I'm not ungrateful, but I'm rather hungry. 
And you can't be always taking things for me 
through your larder window. If you like, I'll 
go back and live in the castle. It's supposed 
to be haunted. I suppose I could haunt it as 
well as any one else. I am a sort of ghost 
now, you know. I will if you like." 

" Oh no," said Kathleen kindly ; " you must 
stay with us." * 

" But about food. I'm not ungrateful, really 
I'm not, but breakfast is breakfast, and bread's 
only bread." 

" If you could get the ring off, you could go 

" Yes," said Mabel's voice, " but you see, I 
can't. I tried again last night in bed, and 


again this morning. And it's like stealing, 
taking things out of your larder — even if it's 
only bread." 

" Yes, it is," said Gerald, who had carried out 
this bold enterprise. 

" Well, now, what we must do is to earn 
some money." 

Jimmy remarked that this was all very well. 
But Gerald and Kathleen listened attentively. 

" What I mean to say," the voice went on, 
" I'm really sure is all for the best, me being 
invisible. We shall have adventures — you see 
if we don't." 

" ' Adventures,' said the bold buccaneer, ' are 
not always profitable.' ' It was Gerald who 
murmured this. 

"This one will be, anyhow, you see. Only 
you mustn't all go. Look here, if Jerry could 
make himself look common " 

" That ought to be easy," said Jimmy. And 
Kathleen told him not to be so jolly disagreeable. 

"I'm not," said Jimmy, "only " 

" Only he has an inside feeling that this 
Mabel of yours is going to get us into trouble," 
put in Gerald. " Like La Belle Dame Sans 
Merci, and he does not want to be found in 
future ages alone and palely loitering in the 
middle of sedge and things." 

"I won't get you into trouble, indeed I won't," 
said the voice. " Why, we're a band of brothers 
for life, after the way you stood by me yester- 
day. What I mean is — Gerald can go to the 
fair and do conjuring." 


" He doesn't know any," said Kathleen. 

" / should do it really," said Mabel, " but Jerry 
could look like doing it. Move things without 
touching them and all that. But it wouldn't do 
for all three of you to go. The more there are 
of children the younger they look, I think, and 
the more people wonder what they're doing all 
alone by themselves." 

" The accomplished conjurer deemed these 
the words of wisdom," said Gerald ; and 
answered the dismal " Well, but what about 
us ? " of his brother and sister by suggesting 
that they should mingle unsuspected with the 
crowd. " But don't let on that you know me," 
he said ; " and try to look as if you belonged to 
some of the grown-ups at the fair. If you don't, 
as likely as not you'll have the kind policemen 
taking the little lost children by the hand and 
leading them home to their stricken relations. — 
French governess, I mean." 

"Let's go now" said the voice that they never 
could get quite used to hearing, coming out of 
different parts of the air as Mabel moved from 
one place to another. So they went. 

The fair was held on a waste bit of land, about 
half a mile from the castle gates. When they 
got near enough to hear the steam-organ of the 
merry-go-round, Gerald suggested that as he 
had ninepence he should go ahead and get some- 
thing to eat, the amount spent to be paid back 
out of any money they might make by con- 
juring. The others waited in the shadows of a 
deep-banked lane, and he came back, quite soon, 


though long after they had hegun to say what 
a long time he had been gone. He brought 
some Barcelona nuts, red-streaked apples, small 
sweet yellow pears, pale pasty gingerbread, a 
whole quarter of a pound of peppermint bulls- 
eyes, and two bottles of gingerbeer. 

" It's what they call an investment," he said, 
when Kathleen said something about extra- 
vagance. "We shall all need special nourishing 
to keep our strength up, especially the bold 

They ate and drank. It was a very beautiful 
meal, and the far-off music of the steam-organ 
added the last touch of festivity to the scene. 
The boys were never tired of seeing Mabel eat, 
or rather of seeing the strange, magic-looking 
vanishment of food which was all that showed 
of Mabel's eating. They were entranced by the 
spectacle, and pressed on her more than her just 
share of the feast, just for the pleasure of seeing 
it disappear. 

" My aunt ! " said Gerald, again and again ; 
" that ought to knock 'em ! " 

It did. 

Jimmy and Kathleen had the start of the 
others, and when they got to the fair they 
mingled with the crowd, and were as unsuspected 
as possible. 

They stood near a large lady who was watch- 
ing the cocoanut shies, and presently saw a 
strange ligure with its hands in its pockets 
strolling across the trampled yellowy grass 
among the bits of drifting paper and the sticks 


and straws that always litter the ground of an 
English fair. It was Gerald, but at first they 
hardly knew him. He had taken off his tie, and 
round his head, arranged like a turban, was the 
crimson school-scarf that had supported his 
white flannels. The tie, one supposed, had 
taken on the duties of the handkerchief. 
And his face and hands were a bright black, 
like very nicely polished stoves ! 

Every one turned to look at him. 

" He's just like a nigger ! " whispered Jimmy. 
" I don't suppose it'll ever come off, do you ? " 

They followed him at a distance, and when he 
went close to the door of a small tent, against 
whose door - post a long - faced melancholy 
woman was lounging, they stopped and tried 
to look as though they belonged to a farmer 
who strove to send up a number by banging 
with a big mallet on a wooden block. 

Gerald went up to the woman. 

" Taken much ? " he asked, and was told, but 
not harshly, to go away with his impudence. 

" I'm in business myself," said Gerald, " I'm a 
conjurer, from India." 

" Not you ! " said the woman ; " you ain't no 
nigger. Why, the backs of yer ears is all 

"Are they?" said Gerald. "How clever of 
you to see that ! " He rubbed them with his 
hands. "That better?" 

"That's all right. What's your little game?" 

" Conjuring, really and truly," said Gerald. 
" There's smaller boys than me put on to it 


in India. Look here, I owe you one for telling 
me about my ears. If you like to run the show 
for me I'll go shares. Let me have your tent to 
perform in, and you do the patter at the door." 

" Lor' love you ! I can't do no patter. And 
you're getting at me. Let's see you do a bit of 
conjuring, since you're so clever an' all." 

" Right you are," said Gerald firmly. " You 
see this apple? Well, I'll make it move slowly 
through the air, and then when I say ' Go !' it'll 

" Yes — into your mouth ! Get away with your 

"You're too clever to be so unbelieving," said 
Gerald. " Look here ! " 

He held out one of the little apples, and the 
woman saw it move slowly and unsupported 
along the air. 

"Now — go!" cried Gerald, to the apple, and 
it w T ent. " How's that ? " he asked, in tones of 

The woman was glowing with excitement, and 
her eyes shone. " The best I ever see ! " she 
whispered. " I'm on, mate, if you know any 
more tricks like that." 

" Heaps," said Gerald confidently ; " hold out 
your hand." The woman held it out ; and from 
nowhere, as it seemed, the apple appeared and 
was laid on her hand. The apple was rather 

She looked at it a moment, and then whis- 
pered : " Come on ! there's to be no one in it 
but just us two. But not in the tent. You take 

"you're getting at me. let's see you do a bit of conjuring, 
since you're so clever an' all." 


a pitch here, 'longside the tent. It's worth twice 
the money in the open air." 

" But people won't pay if they can see it all 
for nothing." 

"Not for the first turn, but they will after — 
yon see. And you'll have to do the patter." 

"Will you lend me your shawl?" Gerald 
asked. She unpinned it — it was a red and black 
plaid — and he spread it on the ground as he had 
seen Indian conjurers do, and seated himself 
cross-legged behind it. 

" I mustn't have any one behind me, that's 
all," he said ; and the woman hastily screened 
off a little enclosure for him by hanging old 
sacks to two of the guy-ropes of the tent. 
" Now I'm ready," he said. The woman got a 
drum from the inside of the tent and beat it. 
Quite soon a little crowd had collected. 

" Ladies and gentlemen," said Gerald, " I come 
from India, and I can do a conjuring entertain- 
ment the like of which you've never seen. When 
I see two shillings on the shawl I'll begin." 

" I dare say you will ! " said a bystander ; and 
there were several short, disagreeable laughs. 

" Of course," said Gerald, " if you can't afford 
two shillings between you " — there were about 
thirty people in the crowd by now — " I say no 

Two or three pennies fell on the shawl, then 
a few more, then the fall of copper ceased. 

" Ninepence," said Gerald. " Well, I've got a 
generous nature. You'll get such a nine- 
pennyworth as you've never had before. I 


don't wish to deceive you — I have an accom- 
plice, but my accomplice is invisible." 

The crowd snorted. 

" By the aid of that accomplice," Gerald went 
on, " I will read any letter that any of you 
may have in your pocket. If one of you will 
just step over the rope and stand beside me, 
my invisible accomplice will read that letter 
over his shoulder." 

A man stepped forward, a ruddy-faced, horsy- 
looking person. He pulled a letter from his 
pocket and stood plain in the sight of all, in a 
place where every one saw that no one could 
see over his shoulder. 

" Now ! " said Gerald. There was a moment's 
pause. Then from quite the other side of the 
enclosure came a faint, far-away, sing-song 
voice. It said : — 

"'Sir, — Yours of the fifteenth duly to hand. 
With regard to the mortgage on your land, 
we regret our inability 

" Stow it ! " cried the man, turning threaten- 
ingly on Gerald. 

He stepped out of the enclosure explaining 
that there was nothing of that sort in his 
letter ; but nobody believed him, and a buzz of 
interested chatter began in the crowd, ceasing 
abruptly when Gerald began to speak. 

" Now," said he, laying the nine pennies down 
on the shawl, " you keep your eyes on those 
pennies, and one by one you'll see them dis- 

And of course they did. Then one by one 

L -^> 



they were laid down again by the invisible 
hand of Mabel. The crowd clapped loudly. 
" Brayvo ! " " That's something like ! " " Show 
us another ! " cried the people in the front rank. 
And those behind pushed forward. 

" Now," said Gerald, " you've seen what I can 
do, but I don't do any more till I see five 
shillings on this carpet." 

And in two minutes seven-and-threepence lay 
there and Gerald did a little more conjuring. 

When the people in front didn't want to 
give any more money, Gerald asked them to 
stand back and let the. others have a look in. I 
wish I had time to tell you of all the tricks he 
did — the grass round his enclosure was abso- 
lutely trampled off by the feet of the people 
who thronged to look at him. There is really 
hardly any limit to the wonders you can do if 
you have an invisible accomplice. All sorts of 
things were made to move about, apparently 
by themselves, and even to vanish — into the 
folds of Mabel's clothing. The woman stood 
by, looking more and more pleasant as she 
saw the money come tumbling in, and beating 
her shabby drum every time Gerald stopped 

The news of the conjurer had spread all over 
the fair. The crowd was frantic with admira- 
tion. The man who ran the cocoanut shies 
begged Gerald to throw in his lot with him ; 
the owner of the rifle gallery offered him free 
board and lodging and go shares ; and a brisk, 
broad lady, in stiff black silk and a violet 


bonnet, tried to engage him for the forth- 
coming Bazaar for Reformed Bandsmen. 

And all this time the others mingled with the 
crowd — quite unobserved, for who could have 
eyes for any one but Gerald? It was getting 
quite late, long past tea-time, and Gerald, who 
was getting very tired indeed, and was quite 
satisfied with his share of the money, was 
racking his brains for a way to get out of it. 

"How are we to hook it?" he murmured, as 
Mabel made his cap disappear from his head 
by the simple process of taking it off and 
putting it in her pocket. " They'll never let us 
get away. I didn't think of that before." 

" Let me think ! " whispered Mabel ; and next 
moment she said, close to his ear : " Divide 
the money, and give her something for the 
shawl. Put the money on it and say . . ." 
She told him what to say. 

Gerald's pitch was in the shade of the tent ; 
otherwise, of course, every one would have seen 
the shadow of the invisible Mabel as she moved 
about making things vanish. 

Gerald told the woman to divide the money, 
which she did honestly enough. 

" Now," he said, while the impatient crowd 
pressed closer and closer, " I'll give you five bob 
for your shawl." 

" Seven-and-six," said the woman mechanically. 

" Righto ! " said Gerald, putting his heavy share 
of the money in his trouser pocket. 

"This shawl will iioav disappear," he said, 
picking it up. He handed it to Mabel, who put 



it on ; and, of course, it disappeared. A roar of 
applause went up from the audience. 

" Now," he said, " I come to the last trick of 
all. I shall take three steps backward and 
vanish." He took three steps backward, Mabel 
wrapped the invisible shawl round him, and — he 
did not vanish. The shawl, being invisible, did 
not conceal him in the least. 

" Yah ! " cried a boy's voice in the crowd. 
" Look at 'im ! 'E knows 'e can't do it." 

" I wish I could put you in my pocket," said 
Mabel. The crowd was crowding closer. At 
any moment they might touch Mabel, and 
then anything might happen — simply anything. 
Gerald took hold of his hair with both hands, 
as his way was when he was anxious or dis- 
couraged. Mabel, in invisibility, wrung her 
hands, as people are said to do in books ; that 
is, she clasped them and squeezed very tight. 

" Oh ! " she whispered suddenly, " it's loose. 
I can get it off." 

« Not—" 

"Yes — the ring." 

" Come on, young master. Give us summat 
for our money," a farm labourer shouted. 

" I will," said Gerald. " This time I really will 
vanish. Slip round into the tent," he whispered 
to Mabel. " Push the ring under the canvas. 
Then slip out at the back and join the others. 
When I see you with them I'll disappear. Go 
slow, and I'll catch you up." 

"It's me," said a pale and obvious Mabel in 


the ear of Kathleen. " He's got the ring ; come 
on, before the crowd begins to scatter." 

As they went out of the gate they heard a 
roar of surprise and annoyance rise from the 
crowd, and knew that this time Gerald really 
had disappeared. 

They had gone a mile before they heard foot- 
steps on the road, and looked back. No one was 
to be seen. 

Next moment Gerald's voice spoke out of 
clear, empty-looking space. 

" Halloa ! " it said gloomily. 

" How horrid ! " cried Mabel ; " you did make 
me jump ! Take the ring off. It makes me 
feel quite creepy, you being nothing but a 

" So did you us," said Jimmy. 

" Don't take it off yet," said Kathleen, who 
was really rather thoughtful for her age, " be- 
cause you're still black, I suppose, and you 
might be recognised, and eloped with by gipsies, 
so that you should go on doing conjuring for 
ever and ever." 

" I should take it off," said Jimmy ; " it's 
no use -going about invisible, and people 
seeing us with Mabel and saying we've eloped 
with her." 

" Yes," said Mabel impatiently, ' ; that would 
be simply silly. And, besides, I want my 

" It's not yours any more than ours, anyhow," 
said Jimmy. 

" Yes, it is," said Mabel. 


" Oh, stow it ! " said the weary voice of Gerald 
beside her. "What's the use of jawing?" 

"I want the ring," said Mabel, rather mulishly. 

"Want" — the words came out of the still 
ev r ening air — " want must be your master. You 
can't have the ring. / cant get it off! " 


The difficulty was not only that Gerald had got 
the ring on and couldn't get it off, and was there- 
fore invisible, but that Mabel, who had been 
invisible and therefore possible to be smuggled 
into the house, was now plain to be seen and 
impossible for smuggling purposes. 

The children would have not only to account 
for the apparent absence of one of themselves, 
but for the obvious presence of a perfect 

" I can't go back to aunt. I can't and I won't," 
said Mabel firmly, "not if I was visible twenty 
times over." 

" She'd smell a rat if you did," Gerald owned — 
"about the motor-car, I mean, and the adopting 
lady. And what we're to say to Mademoiselle 
about you !" He tugged at the ring. 

••Suppose you told the truth," said Mabel 

"She wouldn't believe it," said Cathy; "or, if 
she did, she'd go stark, staring, raving mad." 

"No," said Gerald's voice, " we daren't tell her. 
But she's really rather decent. Let's ask her to 
let you stay the night because it's too late for 

you to get home." 



"That's all right," said Jimmy, "but what 
about you ? " 

" I shall go to bed," said Gerald, "with a bad 
headache. Oh, that's not a lie! I've got one 
right enough. It's the sun, I think. I know 
blacklead attracts the concentration of the sun." 

" More likely the pears and the gingerbread," 
said Jimmy unkindly. " Well, let's get along. 
I wish it was me was invisible. I'd do something 
different from going to bed with a silly headache, 
I know that." 

" What would you do ? " asked the voice of 
Gerald just behind him. 

" Do keep in one place, you silly cuckoo ! " said 
Jimmy. " You make me feel all jumpy." He 
had indeed jumped rather violently. " Here, 
walk between Cathy and me." 

" What would you do ? " repeated Gerald, from 
that apparently unoccupied position. 

" I'd be a burglar," said Jimmy. 

Cathy and Mabel in one breath reminded him 
how wrong burgling was, and Jimmy replied : 

" Well, then — a detective." 

" There's got to be something to detect before 
you can begin detectiving," said Mabel. 

" Detectives don't always detect things," said 
Jimmy, very truly. " If I couldn't be any other 
kind I'd be a baffled detective. You could be one 
all right, and have no end of larks just the same. 
Why don't you do it ? " 

"It's exactly what I am going to do," said 
Gerald. " We'll go round by the police-station 
and see what they've got in the way of crimes.' 


They did, and read the notices on the board 
outside. Two dogs had been lost, a purse, and 
a portfolio of papers "of no value to any but 
the owner." Also Houghton Grange had been 
broken into and a quantity of silver plate stolen. 
" Twenty pounds reward offered for any infor- 
mation that may lead to the recovery of the 
missing property." 

" That burglary's my lay," said Gerald ; " I'll 
detect that. Here comes Johnson," he added ; 
" he's going off duty. Ask him about it. The 
fell detective, being invisible, was unable to pump 
the constable, but the young brother of our hero 
made the inquiries in quite a creditable manner. 
Be creditable, Jimmy." 

Jimmy hailed the constable. 

" Halloa, Johnson ! " he said. 

And Johnson replied : " Halloa, young shaver ! " 

" Shaver yourself ! " said Jimmy, but without 

" What are you doing this time of night ? " 
the constable asked jocosely. " All the dicky 
birds is gone to their little nesteses." 

" We've been to the fair," said Kathleen. 
" There was a conjurer there. I wish you could 
have seen him." 

" Heard about him," said Johnson ; " all fake, 
you know. The quickness of the 'and deceives 
the hi." 

Such is fame. Gerald, standing in the shadow, 
jingled the loose money in his pocket to console 

"What's that?" the policeman asked quickly. 

"what's that?" the policeman asked quickly, 


" Our money jingling," said Jimmy, with 
perfect truth. 

" It's well to be some people," Johnson re- 
marked ; " wish I'd got my pockets full to jingle 

"Well, why haven't you?" asked Mabel. 
"Why don't you get that twenty pounds 
reward ? " 

" I'll tell you why I don't. Because in this 
'ere realm of liberty, and Britannia ruling the 
waves, you aint allowed to arrest a chap on 
suspicion, even if you know pumckly well who 
done the job." 

" What a shame ! " said Jimmy warmly. 
"And who do you think did it?" 

" I don't think — I know." Johnson's voice was 
X^onderous as his boots. " It's a man what's 
known to the police on account of a heap o' 
crimes he's done, but we never can't bring it 
'ome to 'im, nor yet get sufficient evidence to 

"Well," said Jimmy, "when I've left school 
I'll come to you and be apprenticed, and be a 
detective. Just now I think we'd better get 
home and detect our supper. Good-night ! " 

They watched the policeman's broad form 
disappear through the swing door of the police- 
station ; and as it settled itself into quiet again 
the voice of Gerald was heard complaining 

" You've no more brains than a halfpenny 
bun," he said ; " no details about how and when 
the silver was taken." 


" But he told us he knew," Jimmy urged. 

" Yes, that's all you've got out of him. A silly 
policeman's silly idea. Go home and detect your 
precious supper ! It's all you're fit for." 

" What'll you do about supper ? " Mabel 

" Buns ! " said Gerald, " halfpenny buns. They'll 
make me think of my dear little brother and 
sister. Perhaps you've got enough sense to buy 
buns ? I can't go into a shop in this state." 

" Don't you be so disagreeable," said Mabel 
with spirit. " We did our best. If I were Cathy 
you should whistle for your nasty buns." 

" If you were Cathy the gallant young detec- 
tive would have left home long ago. Better 
the cabin of a tramp steamer than the best 
family mansion that's got a brawling sister in 
it," said Gerald. " You're a bit of an outsider at 
present, my gentle maiden. Jimmy and Cathy 
know well enough when their bold leader is 
chaffing and when he isn't." 

" Not when we can't see your face we don't," 
said Cathy, in tones of relief. " I really thought 
you were in a flaring wax, and so did Jimmy, 
didn't you ? " 

" Oh, rot ! " said Gerald. " Come on ! This 
way to the bun shop." 

They went. And it was while Cathy and 
Jimmy were in the shop and the others were 
gazing through the glass at the jam tarts and 
Swiss rolls and Victoria sandwiches and Bath 
buns under the spread yellow muslin in the 
window, that Gerald discoursed in Mabel's ear 


of the plans and hopes of one entering on a 
detective career. 

" I shall keep my eyes open to-night, I can tell 
yon," he began. " I shall keep my eyes skinned, 
and no jolly error. The invisible detective may 
not only find out about the purse and the silver, 
but detect some crime that isn't even done yet. 
And I shall hang about until I see some sus- 
picious-looking characters leave the town, and 
follow them furtively and catch them red- 
handed, with their hands full of priceless jewels, 
and hand them over." 

" Oh ! " cried Mabel, so sharply and suddenly 
that Gerald was roused from his dream to 
express sympathy. 

" Pain ? " he said quite kindly. " It's the 
apples — they were rather hard." 

*' Oh, it's not that," said Mabel very earnestly. 
" Oh, how awful ! I never thought of that 

" Never thought of ivhat i " Gerald asked 

"The window." 

" What window ? " 

" The panelled-room window. At home, you 
know — at the castle. That settles it — I must 
go home. We left it open and the shutters as 
well, and all the jewels and things there. 
Auntie'll never go in ; she never does. That 
settles it ; I must go home — now — this minute." 

Here the others issued from the shop, bun- 
bearing, and the situation was hastily explained 
to them. 



"So you see I must go," Mabel ended. 

And Kathleen agreed that she must. 

But Jimmy said he didn't see what good it 
would do. " Because the key's inside the door, 

" She will be cross," said Mabel sadly. " She'll 
have to get the gardeners to get a ladder 
and " 

" Hooray ! " said Gerald. " Here's me ! Nobler 
and more secret than gardeners or ladders was 
the invisible Jerry. I'll climb in at the window 
— it's all ivy, I know I could — and shut the 
window and the shutters all sereno, put the key 
back on the nail, and slip out imperceived the 
back way, threading my way through the maze 
of unconscious retainers. There'll be plenty of 
time. I don't suppose burglars begin their fell 
work until the night is far advanced." 

" Won't you be afraid ? " Mabel asked. " Will 
it be safe — suppose you were caught ? " 

" As houses. I can't be," Gerald answered, and 
wondered that the question came from Mabel 
and not from Kathleen, who was usually inclined 
to fuss a little aimoyingly about the danger and 
folly of adventures. 

But all Kathleen said was, " Well, goodbye ; 
we'll come and see you to-morrow, Mabel. The 
floral temple at half-past ten. I hope you 
won't get into an awful row about the motor- 
car lady." 

" Let's detect our supper now," said Jimmy. 

"All right," said Gerald a little bitterly. 
It is hard to enter on an adventure like this 


and to find the sympathetic interest of years 
suddenly cut off at the meter, as it were. 
Gerald felt that he ought, at a time like this, 
to have been the centre of interest. And he 
wasn't. They could actually talk about supper. 
Well, let them. He didn't care ! He spoke 
with sharp sternness : " Leave the pantry 
window undone for me to get in by when 
I've done my detecting. Come on, Mabel." 
He caught her hand. " Bags I the buns, 
though," he added, by a happy afterthought, 
and snatching the bag, pressed it on Mabel, 
and the sound of four boots echoed on the 
pavement of the High Street as the outlines 
of the running Mabel grew small with distance. 

Mademoiselle was in the drawing-room. She 
was sitting by the window in the waning light 
reading letters. 

"Ah, vous void /" she said unintelligibly. 
" You are again late ; and my little Gerald, 
where is he ? " 

This was an awful moment. Jimmy's detec- 
tive scheme had not included any answer to 
this inevitable question. The silence was un- 
broken till Jimmy spoke. 

" He said he was going to bed because he 
had a headache." And this, of course, was true. 

" This poor Gerald ! " said Mademoiselle. " Is 
it that I should mount him some supper ? " 

" He never eats anything when he's got one 
of his headaches," Kathleen said. And this also 
was the truth. 


Jimmy and Kathleen went to bed, wholly 
untroubled by anxiety about their brother, and 
Mademoiselle pulled out the bundle of letters 
and read them amid the ruins of the simple 

" It is ripping being out late like this," said 
Gerald through the soft summer dusk. 

" Yes," said Mabel, a solitary-looking figure 
plodding along the high-road. "I do hope 
auntie won't be very furious." 

" Have another bun," suggested Gerald kindly, 
and a sociable munching followed. 

It was the aunt herself who opened to a very 
pale and trembling Mabel the door which is 
appointed for the entrances and exits of the 
domestic staff at Yalding Towers. She looked 
over Mabel's head first, as if she expected to 
see some one taller. Then a very small voice 
said : — 

" Aunt ! " 

The aunt started back, then made a step 
towards Mabel. 

" You naughty, naughty girl ! " she cried 
angrily ; " how could you give me such a 
fright? I've a good mind to keep you in bed 
for a week for this, miss. Oh, Mabel, thank 
Heaven you're safe ! " And with that the 
aunt's arms went round Mabel and Mabel's 
round the aunt in such a hug as they had 
never met in before. 

" But you didn't seem to care a bit this 
morning," said Mabel, when she had realised 


that her aunt really had been anxious, really 
was glad to have her safe home again. 

" How do you know ? " 

" I was there listening. Don't be angry, 

"I feel as if I never could be angry with you 
again, now I've got you safe," said the aunt 

" But how was it ? " Mabel asked. 

" My dear," said the aunt impressively, " I've 
been in a sort of trance. I think I must be 
going to be ill. I've always been fond of you, 
but I didn't want to spoil you. But yesterday, 
about half-past three, I was talking about 
you to Mr. Lewson, at the fair, and quite 
suddenly I felt as if you didn't matter at all. 
And I felt the same when I got your letter and 
when those children came. And to-day in 
the middle of tea I suddenly woke up and 
realised that you were gone. It was awful. I 
think I must be going to be ill. Oh, Mabel, 
why did you do it ? " 

" It was — a joke," said Mabel feebly. And 
then the two went in and the door was shut. 

" That's most uncommon odd," said Gerald, 
outside ; " looks like more magic to me. I don't 
feel as if we'd got to the bottom of this yet, 
by any manner of means. There's more about 
this castle than meets the eye." 

There certainly was. For this castle happened 
to be — but it would not be fair to Gerald to tell 
you more about it than he knew on that night 
when he went alone and invisible through the 


shadowy great grounds of it to look for the 
open window of the panelled room. He knew 
that night no more than I have told you ; but 
as he went along the dewy lawns and through 
the groups of shrubs and trees, where pools 
lay like giant looking-glasses reflecting the 
quiet stars, and the white limbs of statues 
gleamed against a background of shadow, he 
began to feel— well, not excited, not surprised, 
not anxious, but — different. 

The incident of the invisible Princess had sur- 
prised, the incident of the conjuring had excited, 
and the sudden decision to be a detective had 
brought its own anxieties ; but all these happen- 
ings, though wonderful and unusual, had 
seemed to be, after all, inside the circle of 
possible things — wonderful as the chemical 
experiments are where two liquids poured 
together make fire, surprising as legerdemain, 
thrilling as a juggler's display, but nothing 
more. Only now a new feeling came to him as 
he walked through those gardens ; by day those 
gardens were like dreams, at night they were 
like visions. He could not see his feet as he 
walked, but he saw the movement of the dewy 
grass-blades that his feet displaced. And he 
had that extraordinary feeling so difficult to 
describe, and yet so real and so unforgetable — 
the feeling that he was in another world, that 
had covered up and hidden the old world as a 
carpet covers a floor. The floor was there all 
right, underneath, but what he Avaiked on 
was the carpet that covered it — and that 



carpet was drenched in magic, as the turf was 
drenched in dew. 

The feeling was very wonderful ; perhaps you 
will feel it some day. There are still some places 
in the world where it can be felt, but they grow 
fewer every year. 

The enchantment of the garden held him. 

" I'll not go in yet," he told himself ; " it's too 
early. And perhaps I shall never be here at 
night again. I suppose it is the night that 
makes everything look so different." 

Something white moved under a weeping 
willow ; white hands parted the long, rustling 
leaves. A white figure came out, a creature 
with horns and goat's legs and the head and 
arms of a boy. And Gerald was not afraid. 
That was the most wonderful thing of all, 
though he would never have owned it. The 
white thing stretched its limbs, rolled on the 
grass, righted itself, and frisked away across the 
lawn. Still something white gleamed under 
the willow ; three steps nearer and Gerald saw 
that it was the pedestal of a statue — empty. 

" They come alive," he said ; and another 
white shape came out of the Temple of Flora 
and disappeared in the laurels. " The statues 
come alive." 

There was a crunching of the little stones in 
the gravel of the drive. Something enormously 
long and darkly grey came crawling towards 
him, slowly, heavily. The moon came out just 
in time to show its shape. It was one of those 
great lizards that you see at the Crystal Palace, 



made in stone, of the same awful size which 
they were millions of years ago when they 
were masters of the world, before Man was. 

" It can't see me," said Gerald. " I am not 
afraid. It's come to life, too." 

As it writhed past him he reached out a hand 
and touched the side of its gigantic tail. It 
was of stone. It had not " come alive," as he 
had fancied, but was alive in its stone. It 
turned, however, at the touch ; but Gerald also 
had turned, and was running with all his speed 
towards the house. Because at that stony 
touch Fear had come into the garden and 
almost caught him. It was Fear that he ran 
from, and not the moving stone beast. 

He stood panting under the fifth window ; 
when he had climbed to the window-ledge by 
the twisted ivy that clung to the wall, he looked 
back over the grey slope — there was a splashing 
at the fish-pool that had mirrored the stars — 
the shape of the great stone beast was wallow- 
ing in the shallows among the lily-pads. 

Once inside the room, Gerald turned for 
another look. The fish-pond lay still and dark, 
reflecting the moon. Through a gap in the 
drooping willow the moonlight fell on a statue 
that stood calm and motionless on its pedestal. 
Everything was in its place now in the garden. 
Nothing moved or stirred. 

" How extraordinarily rum !" said Gerald. " I 
shouldn't have thought you could go to sleep 
walking through a garden and dream — like 


He shut the window, lit a match, and closed 
the shutters. Another match showed him the 
door. He turned the key, went out, locked the 
door again, hung the key on its usual nail, and 
crept to the end of the passage. Here he 
waited, safe in his invisibility, till the dazzle 
of the matches should have gone from his 
eyes, and he be once more able to find his 
way by the moonlight that fell in bright 
patches on the floor through the barred, un- 
shuttered windows of the hall. 

" Wonder where the kitchen is," said Gerald. 
He had quite forgotten that he was a detective. 
He was only anxious to get home and tell the 
others about that extraordinarily odd dream 
that he had had in the gardens. ' ; I suppose 
it doesn't matter ivhat doors I open. I'm in- 
visible all right still, I suppose? Yes ; can't see 
my hand before my face." He held up a hand 
for the purpose. " Here goes ! " 

He opened many doors, wandered into long 
looms with furniture dressed in brown holland 
covers that looked white in that strange light, 
rooms with chandeliers hanging in big bags from 
the high ceilings, rooms Avhose walls were alive 
with pictures, rooms whose walls were deadened 
with rows on rows of old books, state bedrooms 
in whose great plumed four-posters Queen 
Elizabeth had no doubt slept. (That Queen, by 
the way, must have been very little at home, for 
she seems to have slept in every old house in 
England.) But he could not find the kitchen. 
At last a door opened on stone steps that went 


up — there was a narrow stone passage — steps 
that went down — a door with a light under it. 
It was, somehow, difficult to put out one's hand 
to that door and open it. 

"Nonsense!" Gerald told himself; "don't be 
an ass ! Are you invisible, or aren't you ? " 

Then he opened the door, and some one inside 
said something in a sudden rough growl. 

Gerald stood back, flattened against the wall, 
as a man sprang to the doorway and flashed 
a lantern into the passage. 

" All right," said the man, with almost a sob 
of relief. "It was only the door swung open, it's 
that heavy — that's all." 

" Blow the door ! " said another growling voice ; 
" blessed if I didn't think it was a fair cop that 

They closed the door again. Gerald did not 
mind. In fact, he rather preferred that it should 
be so. He didn't like the look of those men. 
There was an air of threat about them. In their 
presence even invisibility seemed too thin a dis- 
guise. And Gerald had seen as much as he 
wanted to see. He had seen that he had been 
right about the gang. By wonderful luck — 
beginner's luck, a card-player would have told 
him — he had discovered a burglary on the very 
first night of his detective career. The men were 
taking silver out of two great chests, wrapping 
it in rags, and packing it in baize sacks. The 
door of the room was of iron six inches thick. 
It was, in fact, the strong-room, and these men 
had picked the lock. The tools they had done it 


with lay on the floor, on a neat cloth roll, such 
as wood-carvers keep their chisels in. 

" Hurry up ! " Gerald heard. " You needn't 
take all night over it." 

The silver rattled slightly. " You're a rattling 
of them trays like bloomin' castanets," said the 
gruffest voice. Gerald turned and went away, 
very carefully and very quickly. And it is a 
most curious thing that, though he couldn't find 
the way to the servants' wing when he had 
nothing else to think of, yet now, with his mind 
full, so to speak, of silver forks and silver cups, 
and the question of who might he coming after 
him down those twisting passages, he went 
straight as an arrow to the door that led from 
the hall to the place he wanted to get to. 

As he went the happenings took words in 
his mind. 

" The fortunate detective," he told himself, 
"having succeeded beyond his wildest dreams, 
himself left the spot in search of assistance." 

But what assistance? There were, no doubt, 
men in the house, also the aunt ; but he could 
not warn them. He was too hopelessly invisible 
to carry any weight with strangers. The assist- 
ance of Mabel would not be of much value. 
The police? Before they could be got — and 
the getting of them presented difficulties — the 
burglars would have cleared away with their 
sacks of silver. 

Gerald stopped and thought hard ; he held his 
head with both hands to do it. You know the 
way — the same as you sometimes do for simple 



equations or the dates of the battles of the Civil 

Then with pencil, note-book, a window-ledge, 
and all the cleverness he could find at the 
moment, he wrote : — 

" You knoic the room tchere the silver is. 
Burglars are burgling it, the thick door is picked. 
Send a man for police. I will follow the burglars 
if they get away ere police arrive on the spot." 

He hesitated a moment, and ended — 

"From a Friend — this is not a sell." 

This letter, tied tightly round a stone by means 
of a shoe-lace, thundered through the window of 
the room where Mabel and her aunt, in the 
ardour of reunion, were enjoying a supper of 
unusual charm — stewed plums, cream, sponge- 
cakes, custard in cups, and cold bread-and-butter 

Gerald, in hungry invisibility, looked wistfully 
at the supper before he threw the stone. He 
waited till the shrieks had died away, saw the 
stone picked up, the warning letter read. 

" Nonsense ! " said the aunt, growing calmer. 
" How wicked ! Of course it's a hoax." 

" Oh ! do send for the police, like he says," 
wailed Mabel. 

" Like who says ? " snapped the aunt. 

" Whoever it is," Mabel moaned. 

"Send for the police at once," said Gerald, 
outside, in the manliest voice he could find. 


" You'll only blame yourself if you don't. I 
can't do any more for you." 

" I— I'll set the dogs on you ! " cried the aunt. 

"Oh, auntie, dorit!" Mabel was dancing with 
agitation. " It's true — I know it's true. Do — do 
wake Bates ! " 

" I don't believe a word of it," said the aunt. 
No more did Bates when, owing to Mabel's per- 
sistent worryings, he was awakened. But when 
he had seen the paper, and had to choose 
whether he'd go to the strong-room and see that 
there really wasn't anything to believe or go for 
the police on his bicycle, he choose the latter 

When the police arrived the strong-room door 
stood ajar, and the silver, or as much of it as 
three men could carry, was gone. 

Gerald's note-book and pencil came into play 
again later on that night. It was five in the 
morning before he crept into bed, tired out and 
cold as a stone. 

" Master Gerald ! " — it was Eliza's voice in his 
ears — "it's seven o'clock and another fine day, 

and there's been another burglary My cats 

alive ! " she screamed, as she drew up the blind 
and turned towards the bed ; " look at his bed, 
all crocked with black, and him not there ! Oh, 
Jimminy !" It was a scream this time. Kathleen 
came running from her room ; Jimmy sat up in 
his bed and rubbed his eyes. 

" Whatever is it ? " Kathleen cried. 

" I dunno when I 'ad such a turn." Eliza sat 


down heavily on a box as she spoke. " First 
thing his bed all empty and black as the chimley 
back, and him not in it, and then when I looks 
again he is in it all the time. I must be going 
silly. I thought as much when I heard them 
haunting angel voices yesterday morning. But 
I'll tell Mam'selle of you, my lad, w T ith your 
tricks, you may rely on that. Blacking yourself 
all over like a dirty nigger and crocking up your 
clean sheets and pillow T -cases. It's going back 
of beyond, this is." 

" Look here," said Gerald slowly ; " I'm going 
to tell you something." 

Eliza simply snorted, and that was rude of 
her ; but then, she had had a shock and had not 
got over it. 

" Can you keep a secret ? " asked Gerald, very 
earnest through the grey of his partly rubbed- 
off blacklead. 

"Yes," said Eliza. 

"Then keep it and I'll give you two bob." 

" But what was you going to tell me ? " 

"That. About the two bob and the secret. 
And you keep your mouth shut." 

" I didn't ought to take it," said Eliza, holding 
out her hand eagerly. " Now you get up, 
and mind you wash all the corners, Master 

" Oh, I'm so glad you're safe," said Kathleen, 
when Eliza had gone. 

"You didn't seem to care much last night," 
said Gerald coldly. 

" I can't think how I let you go. I didn't care 


last night. But when I woke this morning and 
remembered ! " 

" There, that'll do — it'll come off on you," said 
Gerald through the reckless hugging of his 

" How did you get visible ? " Jimmy asked. 

"It just happened when she called me — the 
ring came off." 

" Tell us all about everything," said Kathleen. 

" Not yet," said Gerald mysteriously. 

" Where's the ring ? " Jimmy asked after 
breakfast. " I want to have a try now." 

" I — I forgot it," said Gerald ; " I expect it's in 
the bed somewhere." 

But it wasn't. Eliza had made the bed. 

" I'll swear there aint no ring there," she said. 
" I should 'a' seen it if there had 'a' been." 


" Search and research proving vain," said 
Gerald, when every corner of the bedroom had 
been turned ont and the ring had not been 
found, " the noble detective hero of our tale 
remarked that he would have other fish to fry 
in half a jiff, and if the rest of you want to hear 
about last night ..." 

"Let's keep it till we get to Mabel," said 
Kathleen heroically. 

"The assignation was ten-thirty, wasn't it? 
Why shouldn't Gerald gas as we go along ? I 
don't suppose anything very much happened, 
anyhow." This, of course, was Jimmy. 

" That shows," remarked Gerald sweetly, " how 
much you know. The melancholy Mabel will 
await the tryst without success, as far as this 
one is concerned. ' Fish, fish, other fish — 
other fish I fry ! ' ' he warbled to the tune of 
" Cherry Ripe," till Kathleen could have pinched 

Jimmy turned coldly away, remarking, 
" When you've quite done." 

But Gerald went on singing — 



"'Where the lips of Johnson smile, 
There's the land of Cherry Isle. 
Other fish, other fish, 
Fish I fry. 
Stately Johnson, come and buy ! ' ' 

" How can you," asked Kathleen, "be so 
aggravating ? " 

" I don't know," said Gerald, returning to prose. 
" Want of sleep or intoxication — of success, I 
mean. Come where no one can hear us. 

"Oh, come to some island where no one can hear, 
And beware of the keyhole that's glued to an ear," 

he whispered, opened the door suddenly, and 
there, sure enough, was Eliza, stooping without. 
She nicked feebly at the wainscot with a duster, 
but concealment was vain. 

" You know what listeners never hear," said 
Jimmy severely. 

" I didn't, then — so there ! " said Eliza, whose 
listening ears were crimson. So they passed 
out, and up the High Street, to sit on the 
churchyard Avail and dangle their legs. And all 
the way Gerald's lips were shut into a thin, 
obstinate line. 

" Noiv" said Kathleen. " Oh, Jerry, don't be 
a goat ! I'm simply dying to hear what 

" That's better," said Gerald, and he told his 
story. As he told it some of the white mystery 
and magic of the moonlit gardens got into his 
voice and his words, so that when he told of the 


statues that came alive, and the great beast 
that was alive through all its stone, Kathleen 
thrilled responsive, clutching his arm, and even 
Jimmy ceased to kick the Avail with his boot 
heels, and listened open-mouthed. 

Then came the thrilling tale of the burglars, 
and the warning letter Hung into the peaceful 
company of Mabel, her aunt, and the bread-and- 
butter pudding. Gerald told the story with the 
greatest enjoyment and such fulness of detail 
that the church clock chimed half-past eleven as 
he said, " Having done all that human agency 
could do, and further help being despaired of, 

our gallant young detective Hullo, there's 


There was. The tail-board of a cart shed her 
almost at their feet. 

"I couldn't wait any longer," she explained, 
•• when you didn't come. And I got a lift. 
Has anything more happened ? The burglars 
had gone when Bates got to the strong-room. " 

" You don't mean to say all that wheeze is 
real?" Jimmy asked. 

" Of course it's real," said Kathleen. 4i Go on, 
Jerry. He's just got to where he threw the 
stone into your bread-and-butter pudding, 
Mabel. Go on." 

Mabel climbed on to the wall. " You've got 
visible again quicker than I did,'' she said. 

Gerald nodded and resumed : 

" Our story must be told in as few Avoids as 
possible, OAA T ing to the fish-frying taking place at 
twelve, and it's past the half-hour now. Having 


left his missive to do its warning work, Gerald de 
Sherlock Holmes sped back, wrapped in invisi- 
bility, to the spot where by the light of their 
dark-lanterns the burglars were still — still 
burgling with the utmost punctuality and 
despatch. I didn't see any sense in running 
into danger, so I just waited outside the passage 
where the steps are — you know ? " 

Mabel nodded. 

" Presently they came out, very cautiously, of 
course, and looked about them. They didn't see 
me — so deeming themselves unobserved they 
passed in silent Indian file along the passage — 
one of the sacks of silver grazed my front part 
— and out into the night." 

" But which way '? " 

" Through the little looking-glass room where 
you looked at yourself when you were invisible. 
The hero followed swiftly on his invisible tennis- 
shoes. The three miscreants instantly sought 
the shelter of the groves and passed stealthily 
among the rhododendrons and across the park, 
and " — his voice dropj)ed and he looked straight 
before him at the pinky convolvulus netting a 
heap of stones beyond the white dust of the 
road — " the stone things that come alive, they 
kept looking out from between bushes and 
under trees — and / saw them all right, but they 
didn't see me. They saw the burglars though, 
right enough ; but the burglars couldn't see 
them. Rum, wasn't it ? " 

"The stone things?" Mabel had to have 
them explained to her. 


" / never saw them come alive," she said, 
" and I've been in the gardens in the evening as 
often as often." 

"i saw them," said Gerald stiffly. 

"I know, I know," Mabel hastened to put 
herself right with him ; "what I mean to say is 
I shouldn't wonder if they're only visible when 
you're mvisible — the liveness of them, I mean, 
not the stoniness." 

Gerald understood, and I'm sure I hope 
you do. 

" I shouldn't wonder if you're right," he said. 
" The castle garden's enchanted right enough ; 
but what I should Like to know is how and why. 
I say. come on. I've got to catch Johnson before 
twelve. We'll walk as far as the market and 
then we'll have to run for it." 

"But go on with the adventure," said Mabel. 
" You can talk as we go. Oh, do — it is so 
aw fully t h rilling ! " 

This pleased Gerald, of course. 

" Well, I just followed, you know, like in a 
dream, and they got out the cavy way — you 
know, where we got in — and I jolly well thought 
I'd lost them; I had to wait till they'd moved 
off down the road so that they shouldn't hear 
me rattling the stones, and I had to tear to 
catch them up. I took my shoes off — I expect 
my stockings are done for. And I followed and 
followed and followed and they went through 
the place where the poor people live, and right 

down to the river. And I say, we must run 

for it." 



So the story stopped and the running began. 

They caught Johnson in his own back-yard 
washing at a bench against his own back-door. 

" Look here, Johnson," Gerald said, " what'll 
you give me if I put you up to winning that 
fifty pounds reward ? " 

" Halves," said Johnson promptly, " and a 
clout 'longside your head if you was coming 
any of your nonsense over me." 

"It's not nonsense," said Gerald very impres- 
sively. " If you'll let us in I'll tell you all about 
it. And when you've caught the burglars and 
got the swag back you just give me a quid for 
luck. I won't ask for more." 

" Come along in, then," said Johnson, " if the 
young ladies'll excuse the towel. But I bet 
you do want something more off of me. Else 
why not claim the reward yourself ? " 

" Great is the wisdom of Johnson — he speaks 
winged words." The children were all in the 
cottage now, and the door was shut. " I want 
you never to let on who told you. Let them 
think it was your own unaided pluck and far- 

" Sit you down," said Johnson, "and if you're 
kidding you'd best send the little gells home 
afore I begin on you." 

" I am not kidding," replied Gerald loftily, 
" never less. And any one but a policeman would 
see Avhy I don't want any one to know it was me. 
I found it out at dead of night, in a place where 
I wasn't supposed to be ; and there'd be a 
beastly row if they found out at home about 




me being out nearly all night. Now do you see, 
my bright-eyed daisy '? " 

Johnson was now too interested, as Jimmy 
said afterwards, to mind what silly names he 
was called. He said he did see — and asked to 
see more. 

" Well, don't you ask any questions, then. 
I'll tell you all it's good for you to know. Last 
night about eleven I was at Yalding Towers. 
No — it doesn't matter how I got there or what 
I got there for — and there was a window open 
and I got in, and there was a light. And it 
was in the strong-room, and there were three 
men, putting silver in a bag." 

" Was it you give the warning, and they sent 
for the police?" Johnson was leaning eagerly 
forward, a hand on each knee. 

" Yes, that was me. You can let them think 
it was you, if you like. You were off duty, 
weren't you ? " 

" I was," said Johnson, " in the arms of 

Murphy " 

" Well, the police didn't come quick enough. 
But / was there — a lonely detective. And I 
followed them." 
"You did?" 

" And I saw them hide the booty and I know 
the other stuff from Houghton Court's in the 
same place, and I heard them arrange about 
when to take it away." 

" Come and show me where," said Johnson, 
jumping up so quickly that his Windsor 
arm-chair fell over backwards, with a crack, 
on the red-brick floor. 


" Not so," said Gerald calmly ; "if you go 
near the spot before the appointed time you'll 
find the silver, but you'll never catch the 

" You're right there." The policeman picked 
up his chair and sat down in it again. 
" Well ? " 

" Well, there's to be a motor to meet them 
in the lane beyond the boat-house by 
Sadler's Rents at one o'clock to-night. They'll 
get the things out at half-past twelve and 
take them along in a boat. So now's your 
chance to • fill your pockets with chink and 
cover yourself with honour and glory. 

" So help me ! " — Johnson was pensive and 
doubtful still — " so help me ! you couldn't have 
made all this up out of your head." 

"Oh yes, I could. But I didn't. Now look 
here. It's the chance of your lifetime, Johnson ! 
A quid for me, and a still tongue for you, and 
the job's done. Do you agree? " 

" Oh, / agree right enough," said Johnson. " I 
agree. But if you're coming any of your 
larks " 

" Can't you see he isn't ? " Kathleen put in 
impatiently. " He's not a liar — we none of 
us are." 

" If you're not on, say so," said Gerald, " and 
I'll find another policeman with more sense." 

" I could split about you being out all night," 
said Johnson. 

" But you wouldn't be so ungentlemanly," 
said Mabel brightly. " Don't you be so un- 


believing, when we're trying to do you a 
good turn." 

" If I were you," Gerald advised, " I'd go 
to the place where the silver is, with two other 
men. You could make a nice little ambush 
in the wood-yard — it's close there. And I'd 
have two or three more men up trees in the 
lane to wait for the motor-car." 

" You ought to have been in the force, you 
ought," said Johnson admiringly ; "but s'pose 
it was a hoax ! " 

" Well, then you'd have made an ass of your- 
self — I don't suppose it ud be the first time," 
said Jimmy. 

" Are you on ? " said Gerald in haste. " Hold 
your jaw, Jimmy, you idiot!" 

" Yes" said Johnson. 

" Then when you're on duty you go down 
to the wood-yard, and the place where you 
see me blow my nose is the place. The sacks 
are tied with string to the posts under the 
water. You just stalk by in your dignified 
beauty and make a note of the spot. That's 
where glory waits you, and when Fame elates 
you and you're a sergeant, please remember 

Johnson said he was blessed. He said it 
more than once, and then remarked that he 
was on, and added that he must be off that 
instant minute. 

Johnson's cottage lies just out of the 
town beyond the blacksmith's forge and the 
children had come to it through the wood. 


They went back the same way, and then 
down through the town, and through its 
narrow, unsavoury streets to the towing-path 
by the timber yard. Here they ran along 
the trunks of the big trees, peeped into the 
saw-pit, and — the men were away at dinner 
and this was a favourite play place of every 
boy within miles — made themselves a see-saw 
with a fresh cut, sweet-smelling pine plank 
and an elm-root. 

'•What a ripping place!" said Mabel, breathless 
on the see-saw's end. " I believe I like this 
better than pretending games or even magic." 

" So do I," said Jimmy. " Jerry, don't keep 
sniffing so — you'll have no nose left." 

" I can't help it," Gerald answered ; " I daren't 
use my hankey for fear Johnson's on the look- 
out somewhere unseen. I wish I'd thought of 
some other signal." Sniff ! " No, nor I 
shouldn't want to now if I hadn't got not to. 
That's what's so rum. The moment I got down 
here and remembered what I'd said about 

the signal I began to have a cold — and 

Thank goodness ! here he is." 

The children, with a fine air of unconcern, 
abandoned the see-saw. 

"Follow my leader!" Gerald cried, and ran 
along a barked oak trunk, the others following. 
In and out and round about ran the file of 
children, over heaps of logs, under the jutting 
ends of piled planks, and just as the policeman's 
heavy boots trod the towing-path Gerald halted 
at the end of a little landing-stage of rotten 


boards, with a rickety handrail, cried " Pax ! " 
and blew his nose with loud fervour. 

" Morning," he said immediately. 

" Morning," said Johnson. " Got a cold, aint 
you ? 

" Ah ! I shouldn't have a cold if I'd got boots 
like yours," returned Gerald admiringly. " Look 
at them. Any one ud know your fairy footstep 
a mile off. How do you ever get near enough 
to any one to arrest them?" He skipped off the 
landing-stage, whispered as he passed Johnson, 
" Courage, promptitude, and despatch. That's 
the place," and was off again, the active leader 
of an active procession. 

"We've brought a friend home to dinner," 
said Kathleen, when Eliza opened the door. 
"Where's Mademoiselle?" 

" Gone to see Yalding Towers. To-day's 
show day, you know. An' just you hurry 
over your dinners. It's my afternoon out, 
and my gentleman friend don't like it if he's 
kept waiting." 

"All right, we'll eat like lightning," Gerald 
promised. " Set another place, there's an angel." 

They kept their word. The dinner — it was 
minced veal and potatoes and rice-pudding, 
perhaps the dullest food in the world — was over 
in a quarter of an hour. 

"And now," said Mabel, when Eliza and a jug 
of hot water had disappeared up the stairs 
together, " where's the ring? I ought to put 
it back." 

" I haven't had a turn yet," said Jimmy. 

„js*m-\~' ,■ ■■■'■■ 



„ When we find it Cathy and I ought to have 
turns same as yon and Gerald did." 

"When you find it ?" Mabel's pale face 

turned paler between her dark locks. 

" I'm very sorry — we're all very sorry," began 
Kathleen, and then the story of the losing had 
to be told. 

" You couldn't have looked properly," Mabel 
protested. " It can't have vanished." 

" You don't know what it can do — no more do 
we. It's no use getting your quills up, fair lady. 
Perhaps vanishing itself is just what it does do. 
You see, it came off my hand in the bed. We 
looked everywhere." 

" Would you mind if / looked?" Mabel's eyes 
implored her little hostess. " You see, if it's lost 
it's my fault. It's almost the same as stealing. 
That Johnson would say it was just the same. 
I know he would." 

"Let's all look again," said Mabel, jumping up. 
" We were rather in a hurry this morning." 

So they looked, and they looked. In the 
bed, under the bed, under the carpet, under the 
furniture. They shook the curtains, they ex- 
plored the corners, and found dust and flue, 
but no ring. They looked, and they looked. 
Everywhere they looked. Jimmy even looked 
fixedly at the ceiling, as though he thought the 
ring might have bounced up there and stuck. 
But it hadn't. 

" Then," said Mabel at last, " your housemaid 
must have stolen it. That's all. I shall tell her 
I think so." 


And she would have done it too, but at that 
moment the front door banged and they knew 
that Eliza had gone forth in all the glory of her 
best things to meet her " gentleman friend." 

"It's no use" — Mabel was almost in teats: 
" look here — will you leave me alone? Perhaps 
you others looking distracts me. And I'll go 
over every inch of the room by myself." 

" Respecting the emotion of their guest, the 
kindly charcoal-burners withdrew," said Gerald. 
And they closed the door softly from the outside 
on Mabel and her search. 

They waited for her, of course — politeness 
demanded it, and besides, they had to stay at 
home to let Mademoiselle in ; though it was a 
dazzling day, and Jimmy had just remembered 
that Gerald's pockets were full of the money 
earned at the fair, and that nothing had yet 
been bought with that money, except a few 
buns in which he had had no share. And of 
course they waited impatiently. 

It seemed about an hour, and was really quite 
ten minutes, before they heard the bedroom 
door open and Mabel's feet on the stairs. 

" She hasn't found it," Gerald said. 

" How do you know ? " Jimmy asked. 

" The way she walks," said Gerald. You can, 
in fact, almost always tell whether the thing 
has been found that people have gone to look 
for by the sound of their feet as they return. 
Mabel's feet said "No go" as plain as they 
could speak. And her face confirmed the cheer- 
less news. 


A sudden and violent knocking at the back 
door prevented any one from having to be polite 
about how sorry they were, or fanciful about 
being sure the ring would turn up soon. 

All the servants except Eliza were away on 
their holidays, so the children went together to 
open the door, because, as Gerald said, if it was 
the baker they could buy a cake from him and 
eat it for dessert. " That kind of dinner sort of 
needs dessert," he said. 

But it was not the baker. When they opened 
the door they saw in the paved court where the 
pump is, and the dust-bin, and the water-butt, a 
young man, with his hat very much on one side, 
his mouth open under his fair bristly moustache, 
and his eyes as nearly round as human eyes can 
be. He wore a suit of a bright mustard colour, 
a blue necktie, and a goldish watch-chain across 
his waistcoat. His body was thrown back and 
his right arm stretched out towards the door, 
and his expression was that of a person who is 
being dragged somewhere against his will. He 
looked so strange that Kathleen tried to shut 
the door in his face, murmuring, " Escaped 
insane." But the door would not close. There 
was something in the way. 

" Leave go of me ! " said the young man. 

" Ho yus ! I'll leave go of you ! " It was the 
voice of Eliza — but no Eliza could be seen. 

" Who's got hold of you ? " asked Kathleen. 

" She has, miss," replied the unhappy stranger. 

" Who's she ? " asked Kathleen, to gain time, 
as she afterwards explained, for she now knew 


well enough that what was keeping the door 
open was Eliza's unseen foot. 

"My fyongsay, miss. At least it sounds like 
her voice, and it feels like her bones, but some- 
thing's come over me, miss, an' I can't see her." 

" That's what he keeps on saving," said Eliza's 
voice. "E's my gentleman friend; is 'e gone 
dotty, or is it me ? " 

" Both, I shouldn't wonder," said Jimmy. 

"Now," said Eliza, "you call yourself a man : 
you look me in the face and say you can't 
see me." 

" Well — I can't," said the wretched gentleman 

" If Pel stolen a ring," said Gerald, looking at 
the sky, "I should go indoors and be quiet, not 
stand at the back door and make an exhibition 
of myself." 

"Not much exhibition about her," whispered 
Jimmy; "good old ring!" 

"I haven't stolen anything," said the gentle- 
man friend. " Here, you leave me be. It's my 
eyes has gone wrong. Leave go of me, d'ye 

Suddenly his hand dropped and he staggered 
back against the water-butt. Eliza had " left go" 
of him. She pushed past the children, shoving 
them aside with her invisible elbows. Gerald 
caught her by the arm with one hand, felt f oi- 
lier ear with the other, and whispered, "You 

stand still and don't say a word. If you do 

well, what's to stop me from sending for the 
l)olice ? " 



Eliza did not know what there was to stop 
him. So she did as she was told, and stood 
invisible and silent, save for a sort of blowing, 
snorting noise peculiar to her when she was out 
of breath. 

The mustard-coloured young man had re- 
covered his balance, and stood looking at the 
children with eyes, if possible, rounder than 

-What is it?" he gasped feebly. "What's 
up ? What's it all about ? " 

" If you don't know, I'm afraid we can't tell 
you," said Gerald politely. 

" Have I been talking very strange-like ? " he 
asked, taking off his hat and passing his hand 
over his forehead. 

"Very," said Mabel. 

" I hope I haven't said anything that wasn't 
good manners," he said anxiously. 

" Not at all," said Kathleen. " You only said 
your fiancee had hold of your hand, and that 
you couldn't see her." 

" No more I can." 

" No more can we," said Mabel. 

" But I couldn't have dreamed it, and then 
come along here making a penny show of my- 
self like this, could I ? " 

" You know best," said Gerald courteously. 

" But," the mustard-coloured victim almost 
screamed, " do you mean to tell me . . ." 

" I don't mean to tell you anything," said 
Gerald quite truly, " but 111 give you a bit of 
advice. You go home and lie down a bit and 


put a wet rag on your head. You'll be all right 

" But I haven't " 

" / should," said Mabel ; " the sun's very hot, 
you know." 

" I feel all right now," he said, " but — well, 
I can only say I'm sorry, that's all I can say. 
I've never been taken like this before, miss. 
I'm not subject to it — don't you think that. 

But I could have sworn Eliza Aint she 

gone out to meet me ? " 

" Eliza's indoors," said Mabel. " She can't 
come out to meet anybody to-day." 

"You -won't tell her about me carrying on this 
way, will you, miss ? It might set her against 
me if she thought I was liable to fits, which I 
never was from a child." 

" We won't tell Eliza anything about you." 

" And you'll overlook the liberty ? " 

" Of course. We know you couldn't help it," 
said Kathleen. " You go home and lie down. 
I'm sure you must need it. Good-afternoon." 

" Good-afternoon, I'm sure, miss," he said 
dreamily. " All the same I can feel the print of 
her finger-bones on my hand while I'm saying- 
it. And you won't let it get round to my boss — 
my employer I mean ? Fits of all sorts are 
against a man in any trade." 

" No, no, no, it's all right — goodbye" said 
every one. And a silence fell as he went slowly 
round the water-butt and the green yard-gate 
shut behind him. The silence was broken by 


" Give me up ! " she said. " Give me up to 
break my heart in a prison cell ! " 

There was a sudden splash, and a round wet 
drop lay on the doorstep. 

" Thunder shower," said Jimmy ; but it was a 
tear from Eliza. 

" Give me up," she went on, " give me up " — 
splash — "but don't let me be took here in the 
town where I'm known and respected" — splash. 
"I'll walk ten miles to be took by a strange 
police — not Johnson as keeps company with my 
own cousin" — splash. " But I do thank you for 
one thing. You didn't tell Elf as I'd stolen the 
ring. And T didn't" — splash — "I only sort of 
borrowed it, it being my day out, and my 
gentleman friend such a toff, like you can sec 
for yourselves." 

The children had watched, spellbound, the 
interesting tears that became visible as they 
rolled off the invisible nose of the miserable 
Eliza. Now Gerald roused himself, and spoke. 

" It's no use your talking," he said. " We 
can't see you ! " 

" That's what he said," said Eliza's voice, 
"but " 

" You can't see yourself," Gerald went on. 
•• Where's your hand ? " 

Eliza, no doubt, tried to see it, and of course 
failed ; for instantly, with a shriek that might 
have brought the police if there had been any 
about, she went into a violent fit of hysterics. 
The children did what they could, everything 
that they had read of in books as suitable to 



such occasions, but it is extremely difficult to do 
the right thing with an invisible housemaid in 
strong hysterics and her best clothes. That was 
why the best hat was found, later on, to be 
completely ruined, and why the best blue dress 
was never quite itself again. And as they were 
burning bits of the feather dusting-brush as 
nearly under Eliza's nose as they could guess, a 
sudden spurt of flame and a horrible smell, as the 
flame died between the quick hands of Gerald, 
showed but too plainly that Eliza's feather 
boa had tried to help. 

It did help. Eliza "came to" with a deep 
sob and said, " Don't burn me real ostrich 
stole ; I'm better now." 

They helped her up and she sat down on the 
bottom step, and the children explained to her 
very carefully and quite kindly that she really 
was invisible, and that if you steal — or even 
borrow — rings you can never be sure what will 
happen to you. 

" But 'ave I got to go on stopping like this," 
she moaned, when they had fetched the little 
mahogany looking-glass from its nail over the 
kitchen sink, and convinced her that she was 
really invisible, "for ever and ever? An' we 
was to a bin married come Easter. No one 
won't marry a gell as 'e can't see. It aint 

" No, not for ever and ever," said Mabel 
kindly, " but you've got to go through with 
it — like measles. I expect you'll be all right 


"To-night, / think," said Gerald. 

" We'll help you all we can, and not tell 
any one," said Kathleen. 

" Not even the police," said Jimmy. 

"Now let's get Mademoiselle's tea ready," said 

"And ours," said Jimmy. 

" No," said Gerald , " we'll have our tea out. 
We'll have a picnic and we'll take Eliza. I'll go 
out and get the cakes." 

" / shan't eat no cake, Master Jerry," said 
Eliza's voice, ' ; so don't you think it. You'd see 
it going down inside my chest. It wouldn't 
be what I should call nice of me to have cake 
showing through me in the open air. Oh, it's 
a dreadful judgment — just for a borrow !" 

They reassured her, set the tea, deputed 
Kathleen to let in Mademoiselle — who came 
home tired and a little sad, it seemed — waited for 
her and Gerald and the cakes, and started off for 
Y aiding Towers. 

" Picnic parties aren't allowed," said Mabel. 

" Ours will be," said Gerald briefly. " Now, 
Eliza, you catch on to Kathleen's arm and 
I'll walk behind to conceal your shadow. My 
aunt ! take your hat off. It makes your 
shadow look like I don't know what. People 
will think we're the county lunatic asylum 
turned loose." 

It was then that the hat, becoming visible in 
Kathleen's hand, showed how little of the 
sprinkled water had gone where it was meant 
to go — on Eliza's face. 


" Me best 'at," said Eliza, and there was a 
silence with sniffs in it. 

"Look here," said Mabel, "yon cheer up. Just 
you think this is all a dream. It's just the kind 
of thing you might dream if your conscience 
had got pains in it about the ring." 

" But will I wake up again ? " 

" Oh yes, you'll wake up again. Now we're 
going to bandage your eyes and take you 
through a very small door, and don't you resist, 
or we'll bring a policeman into the dream like 
a shot." 

I have not time to describe Eliza's entrance 
into the cave. She went head first : the girls 
propelled and the boys received her. If Gerald 
had not thought of tying her hands some one 
would certainly have been scratched. As it was 
Mabel's hand was scraped between the cold rock 
and a passionate boot-heel. Nor will I tell 
you all that she said as they led her along the 
fern-bordered gully and through the arch into 
the wonderland of Italian scenery. She had but 
little language left when they removed her 
bandage under a weeping willow where a statue 
of Diana,. bow in hand, stood poised on one toe, 
a most unsuitable attitude for archery, I have 
always thought. 

"Now," said Gerald, "it's all over— nothing 
but niceness now and cake and things." 

" It's time we did have our tea," said Jimmy. 
And it was. 

Eliza, once convinced that her chest, though 
invisible, was not transparent, and that her 


companions could not by looking through it 
count how many buns she had eaten, made an 
excellent meal. So did the others. If you want 
really to enjoy your tea, have minced veal and 
potatoes and rice-pudding for dinner, with 
several hours of excitement to follow, and 
take your tea late. 

The soft, cool green and grey of the garden 
were changing — the green grew golden, the 
shadows black, and the lake where the swans 
were mirrored upside down, under the Temple 
of Phcebus, was bathed in rosy light from the 
little fluffy clouds that lay opposite the sunset. 

" It is pretty," said Eliza, " just like a picture- 
postcard, aint it? — the tuppenny kind." 

" I ought to be getting home," said Mabel. 

" I can't go home like this. I'd stay and be 
a savage and live in that white hut if it had any 
walls and doors," said Eliza. 

" She means the Temple of Dionysus," said 
Mabel, pointing to it. 

The sun set suddenly behind the line of black 
fir-trees on the top of the slope, and the white 
temple, that had been pink, turned grey. 

" It would be a very nice place to live in even 
as it is," said Kathleen. 

" Draughty," said Eliza, " and law, what a lot 
of steps to clean ! What they make houses for 

without no walls to 'em? Who'd live in " 

She broke off, stared, and added : " What's that ? " 


" That white thing coming down the steps. 
Why, it's a young man in statooary." 


" The statues do come alive here, after sunset," 
said Gerald in very matter-of-fact tones. 

" I see they do." Eliza did not seem at all 
surprised or alarmed. "There's another of 'em. 
Look at them little wings to his feet like 

" I expect that's Mercury," said Gerald. 

" It's ' Hermes ' under the statue that's got 
wings on its feet," said Mabel, " but " 

" / don't see any statues," said Jimmy. " What 
are you punching me for ? " 

"Don't you see?" Gerald whispered; but he 
need not have been so troubled, for all Eliza's 
attention was with her wandering eyes that 
followed hither and thither the quick move- 
ments of unseen statues. " Don't you see ? 
The statues come alive when the sun goes 
down — and you can't see them unless you're 
invisible — and / — -if you do see them you're not 
frightened — unless you touch them." 

" Let's get her to touch one and see," said 

" 'E's lep' into the water," said Eliza in a rapt 
voice. "My, can't he swim neither! And the 
one with the pigeons' wings is flying all over 
the lake having larks with 'im. I do call that 
pretty. It's like cupids as you see on wedding- 
cakes. And here's another of 'em, a little chap 
with long ears and a baby deer galloping 
alongside ! An' look at the lady with the 
biby, throwing it up and catching it like as 
if it was a ball. I wonder she ain't afraid. 
But it's pretty to see 'em." 



The broad park lay stretched before the 
children in growing greyness and a stillness 
that deepened. Amid the thickening shadows 
they could see the statues gleam white and 
motionless. But Eliza saw other things. She 
watched in silence presently, and they watched 
silently, and the evening fell like a veil that 
grew heavier and blacker. And it was night. 
And the moon came up above the trees. 

" Oh," cried Eliza suddenly, " here's the dear 
little boy with the deer — he's coming right for 
me, bless his heart ! " 

Next moment she was screaming, and her 
screams grew fainter and there was the sound 
of swift boots on gravel. 

" Come on ! " cried Gerald ; " she touched it, 
and then she was frightened. Just like I was. 
Run ! she'll send every one in the town mad if 
she gets there like that. Just a voice and boots ! 
Run ! Run ! " 

They ran. But Eliza had the start of them. 
Also when she ran on the grass they could not 
hear her footsteps and had to wait for the 
sound of leather on far-away gravel. Also 
she was driven by fear, and fear drives fast. 

She went, it seemed, the nearest way, invisibly 
through the waxing moonlight, seeing she only 
knew what amid the glades and groves. 

" I'll stop here ; see you to-morrow," gasped 
Mabel, as the loud pursuers followed Eliza's 
clatter across the terrace. " She's gone through 
the stable yard." 

" The back way," Gerald panted as they turned 


the corner of their own street, and he and 
Jimmy swung in past the water-butt. 

An unseen but agitated presence seemed to 
be fumbling with the locked back-door. The 
church clock struck the half-hour. 

" Half-past nine," Gerald had just breath to 
say. " Pull at the ring. Perhaps it'll come 
off now." 

He spoke to the bare doorstep. But it was 
Eliza, dishevelled, breathless, her hair coming 
down, her collar crooked, her dress twisted 
and disordered, who suddenly held out a hand 
— a hand that they could see; and in the hand, 
plainly visible in the moonlight, the dark circle 
of the magic ring. 

" 'Alt* a mo ! " said Eliza's gentleman friend 
next morning. He was waiting for her when 
she opened the door with pail and hearthstone 
in her hand. " Sorry you couldn't come out 

" So'm I." Eliza swept the w T et flannel along 
the top step. " What did you do ? " 

" I 'ad a bit of a headache," said the gentle- 
man friend. "I laid down most of the afternoon. 
What were you up to ? " 

" Oh, nothing pertickler," said Eliza. 

" Then it was all a dream," she said, when 
he was gone ; " but it'll be a lesson to me not 

m m 



to meddle with anybody's old ring again in a 

" So they didn't tell 'er about me behaving 
like I did," said he as he went — "sun, I suppose 
-like our Army in India. I hope I aint going 
to be liable to it. that's all!" 


Johnson was the hero of the hour. It was he 
who had tracked the burglars, laid his plans, 
and recovered the lost silver. He had not 
thrown the stone — public opinion decided that 
Mabel and her aunt must have been mistaken 
in supposing that there was a stone at all. But 
he did not deny the warning letter. It was 
Gerald who went out after breakfast to buy 
the newspaper, and who read aloud to the 
others the two columns of fiction which were 
the Liddlesby Observer s report of the facts. 
As he read every mouth opened wider and 
wider, and when he ceased with " this gifted 
fellow-townsman with detective instincts which 
outrival those of Messrs. Lecoq and Holmes, 
and whose promotion is now assured," there 
was quite a blank silence. 

" Well," said Jimmy, breaking it, " he doesn't 
stick it on neither, does he ? " 

" I feel," said Kathleen, " as if it was our fault 
— as if it was us had told all these whoppers ; 
because if it hadn't been for you they couldn't 
have, Jerry. How could he say all that ? " 

" Well," said Gerald, trying to be fair, " you 



know, after all, the chap had to say something. 

I'm glad I " He stopped abruptly. 

" You're glad you what ? " 

" No matter," said he, with an air of putting 
away affairs of state. " Now, what are we 
going to do to-day ? The faithful Mabel 
approaches ; she will want her ring. And you 
and Jimmy want it too. Oh, I know. Made- 
moiselle hasn't had any attention paid to her 
for more days than our hero likes to confess." 
" I wish you wouldn't always call yourself 
'our hero,'" said Jimmy; "you aren't mine, 

"You're both of you mine" said Kathleen 

"Good little girl." Gerald smiled annoyingly. 
" Keep baby brother in a good temper till 
Nursic comes back." 

"You're not going oat without us?" Kathleen 
asked in haste. 

" ' I haste away, 

'Tis market day,' " 

sang Gerald, 

" ' And in the market there 
Buy roses for my fair.' 

If you want to come too, get your boots on, 
and look slippy about it." 

" I don't want to come," said Jimmy, and 

Kathleen turned a despairing look on Gerald. 

" Oh, James, James," said Gerald sadly, " how 


difficult you make it for me to forget that 
you're my little brother ! If ever I treat you 
like one of the other chaps, and rot you like 
I should Turner or Moberley or any of my 
pals — well, this is what comes of it." 

" You don't call them your baby brothers," 
said Jimmy, and truly. 

" No ; and I'll take precious good care I don't 
call you it again. Come on, my hero and 
heroine. The devoted Mesrour is your salaam- 
ing slave." 

The three met Mabel opportunely at the corner 
of the square where every Friday the stalls and 
the awnings and the green umbrellas were 
pitched, and poultry, pork, pottery, vegetables, 
drapery, sweets, toys, tools, mirrors, and all 
sorts of other interesting merchandise were 
spread out on trestle tables, piled on carts 
whose horses were stabled and whose shafts 
were held in place by piled wooden cases, or 
laid out, as in the case of crockery and hard- 
ware, on the bare flagstones of the market- 

The sun was shilling with great goodwill, 
and, as Mabel remarked, " all Nature looked 
smiling and gay." There were a few bunches 
of flowers among the vegetables, and the 
children hesitated, balanced in choice. 

" Mignonette is sweet," said Mabel. 

" Roses are roses,' said Kathleen. 

" Carnations are tuppence," said Jimmy ; and 
Gerald, sniffing among the bunches of tightly- 
tied tea-roses, agreed that this settled it. 


So the carnations were bought, a bunch of 
yellow ones, like sulphur, a bunch of white ones 
like clotted cream, and a bunch of red ones like 
the cheeks of the doll that Kathleen never 
played with. They took the carnations home, 
and Kathleen's green hair-ribbon came in 
beautifully for tying them up. which was 
hastily done on the doorstep. 

Then discreetly Gerald knocked at the door 
of the drawing-room, where Mademoiselle 
seemed to sit all day. 

" Entrez ! " came her voice ; and Gerald 
entered. She was not reading, as usual, but 
bent over a sketch-book ; on the table was 
an open colour-box of un-English appearance, 
and a box of that slate-coloured liquid so 
familiar alike to the greatest artist in water- 
colours and to the humblest child with a six- 
penny paint-box. 

"With all of our loves," said Gerald, laying 
the flowers down suddenly before her. 

" But it is that you are a dear child. For 
this it must that I embrace you — no?" And 
before Gerald could explain that he was too 
old, she kissed him with little quick French 
pecks on the two cheeks. 

"Are you painting?" he asked hurriedly, to 
hide his annoyance at being treated like a baby. 

" I achieve a sketch of yesterday," she 
answered ; and before he had time to wonder 
what yesterday would look like in a picture 
she showed him a beautiful and exact sketch 
of Yalding Towers. 



" Oh, I say — ripping ! " was the critic's com- 
ment. " I say, mayn't the others come and 
see?" The others came, including Mabel, who 
stood awkwardly behind the rest, and looked 
over Jimmy's shoulder. 

" I say, you are clever," said Gerald respect- 

" To what good to have the talent, when 
one must pass one's life at teaching the 
infants ? " said Mademoiselle. 

" It must be fairly beastly," Gerald owned. 

" You, too, see the design ? " Mademoiselle 
asked Mabel, adding : "A friend from the 
town, yes ? " 

" How do you do ? " said Mabel politely. 
" No, I'm not from the town. I live at 
Yalding Towers." 

The name seemed to impress Mademoiselle 
very much. Gerald anxiously hoped in his 
own mind that she was not a snob. 

" Yalding Towers," she repeated, " but this 
is very extraordinary. Is it possible that you 
arc then of the family of Lord Yalding?" 

" He hasn't any family," said Mabel ; " he's 
not married." 

"I would say are you — how you say? — 
cousin — sister — niece ? " 

" No," said Mabel, flushing hotly, " I'm 
nothing grand at all. I'm Lord Yalding's 
housekeeper's niece." 

" But you know Lord Yalding, is it not ? " 

" No," said Mabel, " I've never seen him." 

" He comes then never to his chateau ? " 



"Not since I've lived there. But he's coming 
next week." 

" Why lives he not there ? " Mademoiselle 

" Auntie say he's too poor," said Mabel, and 
proceeded to tell the tale as she had heard it 
in the housekeeper's room : how Lord Yald- 
ing's uncle had left all the money he could 
leave away from Lord Yalding to Lord Yald- 
ing's second cousin, and poor Lord Yalding 
had only just enough to keep the old place 
in repair, and to live very quietly indeed some- 
where else, but not enough to keep the house 
open or to live there ; and how he couldn't 
sell the house because it was " in tale." 

"What is it then— in tail?" asked Made- 

" In a tale that the lawyers write out," 
said Mabel, proud of her knowledge and 
nattered by the deep interest of the French 
governess ; " and when once they've put your 
house in one of their tales you can't sell it 
or give it away, but you have to leave it to 
your son, even if you don't want to." 

" But how his uncle could he be so cruel — to 
leave him the chateau and no money ? " Made- 
moiselle asked ; and Kathleen and Jimmy stood 
amazed at the sudden keenness of her interest 
in what seemed to them the dullest story. 

" Oh, I can tell you that too," said Mabel. 
" Lord Yalding wanted to marry a lady his 
uncle didn't want him to, a barmaid or a 
ballet lady or something, and he wouldn't 


give her up, and his uncle said. ' Well then,' 
and left everything to the cousin." 

" And you say he is not married." 

" No — the lady went into a convent ; I expect 
she's bricked-up alive by now.'' 

" Bricked ? " 

"In a wall, you know," said Mabel, pointing 
explainingly at the pink and gilt roses of the 
wall-paper, " shut up to kill them. That's what 
they do to you in convents." 

" Xot at all," said Mademoiselle ; " in con- 
vents are very kind good women ; there is 
but one thing in convents that is detestable — 
the locks on the doors. Sometimes people can- 
not get out, especially when they are very 
young and their relations have placed them 
there for their welfare and happiness. But 
brick — how you say it? — enwalling ladies to 
kill them. No — it does itself never. And 
this Lord — he did not then seek his lady?" 

" Oh, yes — he sought her right enough," 
Mabel assured her; "but there are millions 
of convents, you know, and he had no idea 
where to look, and they sent back his letters 
from the post-office, and " 

" Ciel ! " cried Mademoiselle, " but it seems 
that one knows all in the housekeeper's 

" Pretty well all," said Mabel simply. 

"And you think he will find her? No?" 

"Oh, he'll find her all right," said Mabel, 
"when he's old and broken down, you know — 
and dying; and then a gentle sister of charity 


will soothe his pillow, and just when he's dying 
she'll reveal herself and say : ' My own lost love ! ' 
and his face will light up with a wonderful joy 
and he'll expire with her beloved name on his 
parched lips." 

Mademoiselle's was the silence of sheer 
astonishment. " You do the prophesy, it 
appears ? " she said at last. 

" Oh no," said Mabel, " I got that out of 
a book. I can tell you lots more fatal love 
stories any time you like." 

The French governess gave a little jump, as 
though she had suddenly remembered some- 

" It is nearly dinner-time," she said. " Your 
friend — Mabelle, yes — will be your convivial, 
and in her honour we will make a little 
feast. My beautiful flowers — put them to the 
water, Kathleen. I run to buy the cakes. 
Wash the hands, all, and be ready when I 

Smiling and nodding to the children, she left 
them, and ran up the stairs. 

" Just as if she was young," said Kathleen. 

" She w young," said Mabel. " Heaps of ladies 
have offers of marriage when they're no younger 
than her. I've seen lots of weddings too, with 
much older brides. And why didn't you tell me 
she was so beautiful ? " 

" Is she ?" asked Kathleen. 

" Of course she is ; and what a darling to 
think of cakes for me, and calling me a con- 
vivial ! " 


"Look here," said Gerald, "I call this jolly 
decent of her. You know, governesses never 
have more than the meanest pittance, just 
enough to sustain life, and here she is spending 
her little all on us. Supposing we just don't go 
out to-day, but play with her instead. I expect 
she's most awfully bored really." 

" Would she really like it ? " Kathleen won- 
dered. " Aunt Emily says grown-ups never 
really like playing. They do it to please us." 

" They little know," Gerald answered, " how 
often we do it to please them." 

" We've got to do that dressing-up with the 
Princess clothes anyhow — we said we would," 
said Kathleen. " Let's treat her to that." 

" Rather near tea-time," urged Jimmy, " so 
that there'll be a fortunate interruption and the 
play won't go on for ever." 

"I suppose all the things are safe?" Mabel 

" Quite. I told you where I put them. Come 
on, Jimmy; let's help lay the table. We'll get 
Eliza to put out the best china." 

They went. 

" It was lucky," said Gerald, struck by a 
sudden thought, " that the burglars didn't go 
for the diamonds in the treasure-chamber." 

" They couldn't," said Mabel almost in a 
whisper ; " they didn't know about them. I 
don't believe anybody knows about them, except 
me — and you, and you're sworn to secrecy." 
This, you will remember, had been done almost 
at the beginning. " I know aunt doesn't know. 


I just found out the spring by accident. Lord 
Yalding's kept the secret well." 

" I wish I'd got a secret like that to keep," 
said Gerald. 

" If the burglars do know," said Mabel, " it'll 
all come out at the trial. Lawyers make you 
tell everything you know at trials, and a lot of 
lies besides." 

" There won't be any trial," said Gerald, kick- 
ing the leg of the piano thoughtfully. 

"No trial?" 

" It said in the paper," Gerald went on slowly, 
" ' The miscreants must have received warning 
from a confederate, for the admirable prepara- 
tions to arrest them as they returned for their 
ill-gotten plunder were unavailing. But the 
police have a clue.' ' 

" What a pity ! " said Mabel. 

" You needn't worry — they haven't got any 
old clue," said Gerald, still attentive to the piano 

" I didn't mean the clue ; I meant the con- 

" It's a pity you think he's a pity, because he 
was me" said Gerald, standing up and leaving 
the piano leg alone. He looked straight before 
him, as the boy on the burning deck may have 

" I couldn't help it," he said. " I know you'll 
think I'm a criminal, but I couldn't do it. I 
don't know how detectives can. I went over 
a prison once, with father; and after I'd given 
the tip to Johnson I remembered that, and I 


just couldn't. I know I'm a beast, and not 
worthy to be a British citizen." 

" I think it was rather nice of you," said 
Mabel kindly. "How did you warn them?" 

" I just shoved a paper under the man's door 
— the one that I knew where he lived — to tell 
him to lie low.'' 

" Oh ! do tell me — what did you put on it 
exactly?" Mabel warmed to this new interest. 

" It said : ' The police know all except your 
names. Be virtuous and you are safe. But if 
there's any more burgling I shall split and you 
may rely on that from a friend.' I know it was 
wrong, but I couldn't help it. Don't tell the 
others. They wouldn't understand why I did it. 
I don't understand it myself." 

" I do," said Mabel : " it's because you've got a 
kind and noble heart." 

" Kind fiddlestick, my good child ! " said Gerald, 
suddenly losing the burning boy expression and 
becoming in a flash entirely himself. " Cut 
along and wash your hands ; you're as black as 

" So are you.*' said Mabel, " and I'm not. It's 
dye with me. Auntie was dyeing a blouse this 
morning. It told you how in Home Drivel — and 
she's as black as ink too, and the blouse is all 
streaky. Pity the ring won't make just parts of 
you invisible — the dirt, for instance." 

" Perhaps," Gerald said unexpectedly, " it 
won't make even all of you invisible again." 

"Why not? You haven't been doing any- 
thing to it — have you ? " Mabel sharply asked. 


" No ; but didn't you notice you were in- 
visible twenty-one hours ; I was fourteen hours 
invisible, and Eliza only seven — that's seven less 
each time. And now we've come to " 

" How frightfully good you are at sums ! " said 
Mabel, awestruck. 

" You see, it's got seven hours less each time, 
and seven from seven is nought ; it's got to be 
something different this time. And then after- 
wards — it can't be minus seven, because I don't 
see how — unless it made you more visible — 
thicker, you know." 

" Dont ! " said Mabel ; " you make my head go 

" And there's another odd thing," Gerald went 
on ; " when you're invisible your relations don't 
love you. Look at your aunt, and Cathy never 
turning a hair at me going burgling. We 
haven't got to the bottom of that ring yet. 
Crikey ! here's Mademoiselle with the cakes. 
Run, bold bandits — wash for your lives ! " 

They ran. 

It was not cakes only ; it was plums and 
grapes and jam tarts and soda-water and rasp- 
berry vinegar, and chocolates in pretty boxes 
and " pure, thick, rich " cream in brown jugs, 
also a big bunch of roses. Mademoiselle was 
strangely merry, for a governess. She served 
out the cakes and tarts with a liberal hand, 
made wreaths of the flowers for all their heads 
— she was not eating much herself — drank the 
health of Mabel, as the guest of the day, in the 
beautiful pink drink that comes from mixing 


raspberry vinegar and soda-water, and actually 
persuaded Jimmy to wear his wreath, on the 
ground that the Greek gods as well as the 
goddesses always wore wreaths at a feast. 

There never was such a feast provided by any 
French governess since French governesses 
began. There were jokes and stories and 
laughter. Jimmy showed all those tricks with 
forks and corks and matches and apples which 
are so deservedly popular. Mademoiselle told 
them stories of her own school-days when she 
was " a quite little girl with two tight tresses — 
so," and when they could not understand the 
tresses, called for paper and pencil and drew 
the loveliest little picture of herself when she 
was a child with two short fat pig-tails sticking 
out from her head like knitting-needles from a 
ball of dark worsted. Then she drew pictures 
of everything they asked for, till Mabel pulled 
Gerald's jacket and whispered : " The acting ! " 

" Draw us the front of a theatre," said Gerald 
tactfully, " a French theatre." 

"They are the same thing as the English 
theatres," Mademoiselle told him. 

" Do you like acting — the theatre, I mean ? " 

" But yes — I love it." 

" All right," said Gerald briefly. " We'll act 
a play for you — now — this afternoon if you 

" Eliza will be washing up," Cathy whispered, 
" and she was promised to see it." 

" Or this evening," said Gerald ; " and please, 
Mademoiselle, may Eliza come in and look on ? " 


" But certainly," said Mademoiselle ; " amuse 
yourselves well, my children." 

" But it's you" said Mabel suddenly, " that we 
want to amuse. Because we love you very much 
— don't we, all of you ? " 

'• Yes," the chorus came unhesitatingly. 
Though the others would never have thought 
of saying such a thing on their own account. 
Yet, as Mabel said it, they found to their 
surprise that it was true. 

'■ Tiens ! " said Mademoiselle, " you love the 
old French governess ? Impossible," and she 
spoke rather indistinctly. 

" You're not old," said Mabel ; " at least not so 
very," she added brightly, " and you're as lovely 
as a Princess." 

"Go then, flatteress!" said Mademoiselle, laugh- 
ing ; and Mabel went. The others were already 
half-way up the stairs. 

Mademoiselle sat in the drawing-room as 
usual, and it was a good thing that she was 
not engaged in serious study, for it seemed that 
the door opened and shut almost ceaselessly all 
throughout the afternoon. Might they have 
the embroidered antimacassars and the sofa 
cushions ? Might they have the clothes-line out 
of the washhouse ? Eliza said they mightn't, 
but might they ? Might they have the sheep- 
skin hearth-rugs ? Might they have tea in the 
garden, because they had almost got the stage 
ready in the dining-room, and Eliza wanted to 
set tea ? Could Mademoiselle lend them any 
coloured clothes — scarves or dressing-gowns, or 



anything bright ? Yes, Mademoiselle could, and 
did — silk things, surprisingly lovely for a gover- 
ness to have. Had Mademoiselle any rouge? 

They had always heard that French ladies 

No. Mademoiselle hadn't — and to judge by the 
colour of her face, Mademoiselle didn't need it. 
Did Mademoiselle think the chemist sold rouge 
— or had she any false hair to spare ? At this 
challenge Mademoiselle's pale fingers pulled out 
a dozen hairpins, and down came the loveliest 
blue-black hair, hanging to her knees in straight, 
heavy lines. 

"No, you terrible infants," she cried. "I have 
not the false hair, nor the rouge. And my teeth 
— you want them also, without doubt? " 

She showed them in a laugh. 

" I said you were a Princess," said Mabel, " and 
now I know. You're Rupunzel. Do always 
wear your hair like that ! May we have the 
peacock fans, please, off the mantelpiece, and 
the things that loop back the curtains, and all 
the handkerchiefs you've got?" 

Mademoiselle denied them nothing. They had 
the fans and the handkerchiefs and some large 
sheets of expensive drawing-paper out of the 
school cupboard, and Mademoiselle's best sable 
paint-brush and her paint-box. 

" Who would have thought," murmured Gerald, 
pensively sucking the brush and gazing at the 
paper mask he had just painted, " that she 
was such a brick in disguise ? I wonder why 
crimson lake always tastes just like Liebig's 


Everything was pleasant that day somehow. 
There are some days like that, yon know, when 
everything goes well from the very beginning ; 
all the things yon want are in their places, 
nobody misunderstands you, and all that you do 
turns out admirably. How different from those 
other days which we all know too well, when 
your shoe-lace breaks, your comb is mislaid, 
your brush spins on its back on the floor and 
lands under the bed where you can't get at it — 
you drop the soap, your buttons come off, an 
eyelash gets into your eye, you have used your 
last clean handkerchief, your collar is frayed at 
the edge and cuts your neck, and at the very 
last moment your suspender breaks, and there 
is no string. On such a day as this you are 
naturally late for breakfast, and every one 
thinks you did it on purpose. And the day goes 
on and on, getting worse and worse — you mislay 
your exercise-book, you drop your arithmetic in 
the mud, your pencil breaks, and when you open 
your knife to sharpen the pencil you split your 
nail. On such a day you jam your thumb in 
doors, and muddle the messages you are sent 
on by grown-ups. You upset your tea, and your 
bread-and-butter won't hold together for a 
moment. And when at last you get to bed — 
usually in disgrace — it is no comfort at all to 
you to know that not a single bit of it is your 
own fault. 

This day was not one of those days, as you 
will have noticed. Even the tea in the garden — 
there was a bricked bit by a rockery that made 


a steady floor for the tea-table — was most 
delightful, though the thoughts of four out of 
the five Avere busy with the coming play, and 
the fifth had thoughts of her own that had 
had nothing to do with tea or acting. 

Then there was an interval of slamming doors, 
interesting silences, feet that flew up and down 

It was still good daylight when the dinner-bell 
rang — the signal had been agreed upon at tea- 
time, and carefully explained to Eliza. Made- 
moiselle laid down her book and passed out of 
the sunset-yellowed hall into the faint yellow 
gaslight of the dining-room. The giggling Eliza 
held the door open before her, and followed her 
in. The shutters had been closed — streaks of 
daylight showed above and below them. The 
green- and-black tablecloths of the school dining- 
tables were supported on the clothes-line from 
the backyard. The line sagged in a graceful 
curve, but it answered its purpose of supporting 
the curtains which concealed that part of the 
room which was the stage. 

Rows of chairs had been placed across the 
other end of the room — all the chairs in the 
house, as it seemed — and Mademoiselle started 
violently when she saw that fully half a dozen 
of these chairs were occupied. And by the 
queerest people, too — an old woman with a 
poke bonnet tied under her chin with a red 
handkerchief, a lady in a large straw hat 
wreathed in flowers and the oddest hands that 
stuck out over the chair in front of her, several 



men with strange, clumsy figures, and all with 
hats on. 

" But," whispered Mademoiselle, through the 
chinks of the tablecloths, " you have then invited 
other friends ? You should have asked me, my 

Laughter and something like a " hurrah " 
answered her from behind the folds of the 
curtaining tablecloths. 

"All right, Mademoiselle Rapunzel," cried 
Mabel ; " turn the gas up. It's only part of the 

Eliza, still giggling, pushed through the lines 
of chairs, knocking off the hat of one of the 
visitors as she did so, and turned up the three 
incandescent burners. 

Mademoiselle looked at the figure seated 
nearest to her, stooped to look more closely, 
half laughed, quite screamed, and sat down 

" Oh ! " she cried, " they are not alive ! " 

Eliza, with a much louder scream, had found 
out the same thing and announced it differently. 
" They ain't got no insides," said she. The seven 
members of the audience seated among the 
wilderness of chairs had, indeed, no insides to 
speak of. Their bodies were bolsters and rolled- 
up blankets, their spines were broom-handles, 
and their arm and leg bones were hockey sticks 
and umbrellas. Their shoulders were the wooden 
cross-pieces that Mademoiselle used for keeping 
her jackets in shape ; their hands were gloves 
stuffed out with handkerchiefs ; and their faces 


were the paper masks painted in the after- 
noon by the untutored brush of Gerald, tied 
on to the round heads made of the ends of 
stuffed bolster-cases. The faces were really 
rather dreadful. Gerald had done his best, but 
even after his best had been done you would 
hardly have known they were faces, some of 
them, if they hadn't been in the positions which 
faces usually occupy, between the collar and the 
hat. Their eyebrows were furious with lamp- 
black frowns — their eyes the size, and almost 
the shape, of five-shilling pieces, and on their 
lips and cheeks had been spent much crimson 
lake and nearly the whole of a half-pan of 

" You have made yourself an auditors, yes ? 
Bravo ! " cried Mademoiselle, recovering herself 
and beginning to clap. And to the sound of 
that clapping the curtain went up — or, rather, 
apart. A voice said, in a breathless, choked 
way, " Beauty and the Beast," and the stage was 

It was a real stage too — the dining-tables 
pushed close together and covered with pink- 
and-white counterpanes. It was a little unsteady 
and creaky to walk on, but very imposing to 
look at. The scene was simple, but convincing. 
A big sheet of cardboard, bent square, with slits 
cut in it and a candle behind, represented, quite 
transparently, the domestic hearth ; a round 
hat-tin of Eliza's, supported on a stool with a 
night-light under it, could not have been mis- 
taken, save by wilful malice, for anything but 



a copper. A waste-paper basket with two or 
three school dusters and an overcoat in it, and 
a pair of blue pyjamas over the back of a chair, 
put the finishing touch to the scene. It did not 
need the announcement from the wings, " The 
laundry at Beauty's home." It was so plainly 
a laundry and nothing else. 

In the wings : " They look just like a real 
audience, don't they ? " whispered Mabel. " Go 
on, Jimmy, — don't forget the Merchant has to be 
pompous and use long words." 

Jimmy, enlarged by pillows under Gerald's 
best overcoat, which had been intentionally 
bought with a view to his probable growth 
during the two years which it was intended to 
last him, a Turkish towel turban on his head 
and an open umbrella over it, opened the first 
act in a simple and swift soliloquy : 

" I am the most unlucky merchant that ever 
was. I was once the richest merchant in 
Bagdad, but I lost all my ships, and now I live 
in a poor house that is all to bits ; you can see 
how the rain comes through the roof, and my 
daughters take in washing. And " 

The pause might have seemed long, but 
Gerald rustled in, elegant in Mademoiselle's pink 
dressing-gown and the character of the eldest 

" A nice drying day," he minced. " Pa dear, 
put the umbrella the other way up. It'll save 
us going out in the rain to fetch water. Come 
on, sisters, dear father's got us a new wash-tub. 
Here's luxury ! " 


Round the umbrella, now held the wrong way 
up, the three sisters knelt and washed imagi- 
nary linen. Kathleen wore a violet skirt of 
Eliza's, a blue blouse of her own, and a cap of 
knotted handkerchiefs. A white nightdress girt 
with a white apron and two red carnations in 
Mabel's black hair left no doubt as to which of 
the three was Beauty. 

The scene went very well. The final dance 
with waving towels was all that there is of 
charming, Mademoiselle said ; and Eliza was 
so much amused that, as she said, she got quite 
a nasty stitch along of laughing so hearty. 

You know pretty well what Beauty and the 
Beast would be like acted by four children who 
had spent the afternoon in arranging their 
costumes and so had left no time for rehearsing 
what they had to say. Yet it delighted them, 
and it charmed their audience. And what more 
can any play do, even Shakespeare's ? Mabel, in 
her Princess clothes, was a resplendent Beauty ; 
and Gerald a Beast who wore the drawing-room 
hearthrugs with an air of indescribable distinc- 
tion. If Jimmy was not a talkative merchant, 
he made it up with a stoutness practically 
unlimited, and Kathleen surprised and delighted 
even herself by the quickness with which she 
changed from one to the other of the minor 
characters — fairies, servants, and messengers. 
It was at the end of the second act that Mabel, 
whose costume, having reached the height of 
elegance, could not be bettered and therefore 
did not need to be changed, said to Gerald, 


sweltering under the weighty magnificence of 
his beast-skin : — 

" I say, you might let us have the ring 

" I'm going to," said Gerald, who had quite 
forgotten it. " I'll give it you in the next 
scene. Only don't lose it, or go putting it on. 
You might go out all together and never be 
seen again, or you might get seven times as 
visible as any one else, so that all the rest of us 
would look like shadows beside you, you'd be so 
thick, or " 

"Ready!" said Kathleen, bustling in, once 
more a wicked sister. 

Gerald managed to get his hand into his 
pocket under his hearthrug, and when he rolled 
his eyes in agonies of sentiment, and said, 
" Farewell, dear Beauty ! Return quickly, for 
if you remain long absent from your faithful 
beast he will assuredly perish," he pressed a ring 
into her hand and added : " This is a magic ring 
that will give you anything you wish. When 
you desire to return to your own disinterested 
beast, put on the ring and utter your wish. 
Instantly you will be by my side." 

Beauty-Mabel took the ring, and it was the 

The curtains closed to warm applause from 
two pairs of hands. 

The next scene went splendidly. The sisters 
were almost too natural in their disagreeable- 
ness, and Beauty's annoyance when they splashed 
her Princess's dress with real soap and water 


was considered a miracle of good acting. Even 
the merchant rose to something more than mere 
pillows, and the curtain fell on his pathetic 
assurance that in the absence of his dear Beauty 
he was wasting away to a shadow. And again 
two pairs of hands applauded. 

"Here, Mabel, catch hold," Gerald appealed 
from under the weight of a towel-horse, the tea- 
urn, the tea-tray, and the green baize apron of 
the boot boy, which together with four red 
geraniums from the landing, the pampas-grass 
from the drawing-room fireplace, and the india- 
rubber plants from the drawing-room window 
were to represent the fountains and garden of 
the last act. The applause had died away. 

" I wish," said Mabel, taking on herself the 
weight of the tea-urn, " I wish those creatures 
we made were alive. We should get something 
like applause then." 

" I'm jolly glad they aren't," said Gerald, 
arranging the baize and the towel-horse. 
" Brutes ! It makes me feel quite silly when I 
catch their paper eyes." 

The curtains were drawn back. There lay the 
hearth-rug-coated beast, in flat abandonment 
among the tropic beauties of the garden, the 
pampas-grass shrubbery, the indiarubber plant 
bushes, the geranium-trees and the urn foun- 
tain. Beauty was ready to make her great 
entry in all the thrilling splendour of despair. 
And then suddenly it all happened. 

Mademoiselle began it : she applauded the 
garden scene — with hurried little clappings of 


her quick French hands. Eliza's fat red palms 
followed heavily, and then— some one else 
was clapping, six or seven people, and their 
clapping made a dull padded sound. Nine faces 
instead of two were turned towards the stage, 
and seven out of the nine were painted, pointed 
paper faces. And every hand and every face 
was alive. The applause grew louder as Mabel 
glided forward, and as she paused and looked 
at the audience her unstudied pose of horror 
and amazement drew forth applause louder 
still ; but it was not loud enough to drown the 
shrieks of Mademoiselle and Eliza as they 
rushed from the room, knocking chairs over and 
crushing each other in the doorway. Two 
distant doors banged, Mademoiselle's door 
and Eliza's door. 

" Curtain ! curtain ! quick ! " cried Beauty- 
Mabel, in a voice that wasn't Mabel's or the 
Beauty's. " Jerry — those things have come 
alive. Oh, whatever shall we do ? " 

Gerald in his hearthrugs leaped to his feet. 
Again that flat padded applause marked the 
swish of cloths on clothes-line as Jimmy and 
Kathleen drew the curtains. 

" What's up ? " they asked as they drew. 

" You've done it this time ! " said Gerald to 
the pink, perspiring Mabel. " Oh, bother these 
strings ! " 

" Can't you burst them ? Fre done it ? " 
retorted Mabel. " I like that ! " 

' ; More than I do," said Gerald. 

" Oh, it's all right,*' said Mabel, " Come on. 


" We must go and pull the things to pieces — 
then they cant go on being alive." 

"It's your fault, anyhow," said Gerald with 
every possible absence of gallantry. " Don't 
you see ? It's turned into a wishing ring. I 
knew something different was going to happen. 
Get my knife out of my pocket — this string's 
in a knot. Jimmy, Cathy, those Ugly-Wuglies 
have come alive — because Mabel wished it. 
Cut out and pull them to pieces." 

Jimmy and Cathy peeped through the curtain 
and recoiled with white faces and staring eyes. 
"Not me!" was the brief rejoinder of Jimmy. 
Cathy said, "Not much!" And she meant it, 
any one could see that. 

And now, as Gerald, almost free of the hearth- 
rugs, broke his thumb-nail on the stiffest blade 
of his knife, a thick rustling and a sharp, heavy 
stumping sounded beyond the curtain. 

" They're going out ! " screamed Kathleen — 
" ivalking out — on their umbrella and broom- 
stick legs. You can't stop them, Jerry, they're 
too awful ! " 

" Everybody in the town'll be insane by 
to-morrow night if we don't stop them," cried 
Gerald. " Here, give me the ring — I'll unwish 

He caught the ring from the unresisting 
Mabel, cried, " I wish the Uglies tverent alive," 
and tore through the door. He saw, in fancy, 
Mabel's wish undone, and the empty hall 
strewed with limp bolsters, hats, umbrellas, 
coats and gloves, prone abject properties from 



which the brief life had gone out for ever. 
But the hall was crowded with live things, 
strange things — all horribly short as broom- 
sticks and umbrellas are short. A limp 
hand gesticulated. A pointed white face with 
red cheeks looked up at him, and wide red 
lips said something, he could not tell what. 
The voice reminded him of the old beggar down 
by the bridge who had no roof to his mouth. 
These creatures had no roofs to their mouths, 
of course — they had no 

" Aa oo re o me me oo a oo ho el ? " said the 
voice again. And it had said it four times 
before Gerald could collect himself sufficiently 
to understand that this horror — alive, and most 
likely quite uncontrollable — was saying, with a 
dreadful calm, polite persistence : — 

" Can you recommend me to a good hotel ? " 


" Can you recommend me to a good hotel ? " 
The speaker had no inside to his head. Gerald 
had the best of reasons for knowing it. The 
speaker's coat had no shoulders inside it — only 
the cross-bar that a jacket is slung on by careful 
ladies. The hand raised in interrogation was 
not a hand at all ; it was a glove lumpily 
stuffed with pocket-handkerchiefs ; and the 
arm attached to it was only Kathleen's school 
umbrella. Yet the whole thing was alive, and 
was asking a definite, and for anybody else, 
anybody who really was a body, a reasonable 

With a sensation of inward sinking, Gerald 
realised that now or never was the time for him 
to rise to the occasion. And at the thought he 
inwardly sank more deeply than before. It 
seemed impossible to rise in the very smallest 

" I beg your pardon " was absolutely the best 
he could do ; and the painted, pointed paper 
face turned to him once more, and once more 
said : — 

" Aa oo re o me me oo a oo ho el ? " 



" You want a hotel ? " Gerald repeated stupidly, 
" a good hotel ? " 

" A oo ho el," reiterated the painted lips. 

" I'm awfully sorry," Gerald went on — one 
can always be polite, of course, whatever hap- 
pens, and politeness came natural to him — 
" but all our hotels shut so early — about eight, 
I think." 

"Och em er," said the Ugly-Wugly. Gerald 
even now does not understand how that prac- 
tical joke— hastily wrought of hat, overcoat, 
paper face and limp hands — could have managed, 
by just being alive, to become perfectly respect- 
able, apparently about fifty years old, and 
obviously well off, known and respected in his 
own suburb — the kind of man who travels first 
class and smokes expensive cigars. Gerald 
knew this time, without need of repetition, that 
the Ugly-Wugly had said : — 

" Knock 'em up." 

" You can't," Gerald explained ; " they're all 
stone deaf — every single person who keeps a 
hotel in this town. It's — " he wildly plunged — 
" it's a County Council law. Only deaf people 
allowed to keep hotels. It's because of the hops 
in the beer," he found himself adding ; " you 
know, hops are so good for earache." 

"I o wy olio oo," said the respectable Ugly- 
Wugly ; and Gerald was not surprised to find 
that the thing did "not quite follow him." 

" It is a little difficult at first," he said. The 
other Ugly-Wuglies were crowding round. The 
lady in the poke bonnet said— Gerald found he 


was getting quite clever at understanding the 
conversation of those who had no roofs to 
their mouths : — 

" If not a hotel, a lodging." 

" My lodging is on the cold ground," sang 
itself unbidden and unavailing in Gerald's ear. 
Yet stay — was it unavailing ? 

"I do know a lodging," he said slowly, 

"but " The tallest of the Ugly-Wuglies 

pushed forward. He was dressed in the old 
brown overcoat and top-hat which always hung 
on the school hat-stand to discourage possible 
burglars by deluding them into the idea that 
there was a gentleman-of-the-house, and that he 
was at home. He had an air at once more 
sporting and less reserved than that of the first 
speaker, and any one could see that he was not 
quite a gentleman. 

" Wa I wo oo oh," he began, but the lady 
Ugly-Wugly in the flower-wreathed hat inter- 
rupted him. She spoke more distinctly than 
the others, owing, as Gerald found afterwards, 
to the fact that her mouth had been drawn 
open, and the flap cut from the aperture had 
been folded back — so that she really had some- 
thing like a roof to her mouth, though it was 
only a paper one. 

" What / want to know," Gerald understood 
her to say, " is where are the carriages we 
ordered ? " 

" I don't know," said Gerald, " but I'll find 
out. But we ought to be moving," he added ; 
<' you see, the performance is over, and they 


want to shut up the house and put the lights 
out. Let's be moving." 

" Eh — ech e oo-ig," repeated the respectable 
Ugly- W ugly, and stepped towards the front 

" Oo urn oo," said the flower- wreathed one ; 
and Gerald assures me that her vermilion lips 
stretched in a smile. 

" I shall be delighted," said Gerald with 
earnest courtesy, " to do anything, of course. 
Things do happen so awkwardly when you least 
expect it. I could go with you, and get you 
a lodging, if you'd only wait a few moments 
in the — in the yard. It's quite a superior sort 
of yard," he went on, as a wave of surprised 
disdain passed over their white paper faces— 
" not a common yard, you know ; the pump," 
he added madly, " has just been painted green 
all over, and the dustbin is enamelled iron." 

The Ugly-Wuglies turned to each other in 
consultation, and Gerald gathered that the 
greenness of the pump and the enamelled 
character of the dust-bin made, in their opinion, 
all the difference. 

" I'm awfully sorry," he urged eagerly, " to 
have to ask you to wait, but you see I've got 
an uncle who's quite mad, and I have to give 
him his gruel at half-past nine. He won't feed 
out of any hand but mine." Gerald did 
not mind what he said. The only people one 
is allowed to tell lies to are the Ugly-Wuglies ; 
they are all clothes and have no insides, because 
they are not human beings, but only a sort of 


very real visions, and therefore cannot be really 
deceived, though they may seem to be. 

Through the back door that has the blue, 
yellow, red and green glass in it, down the iron 
steps into the yard, Gerald led the way, and 
the Ugly-Wuglies trooped after him. Some 
of them had boots, but the ones whose feet 
were only broomsticks or umbrellas found the 
open-work iron stairs very awkward. 

"If you wouldn't mind" said Gerald, "just 
waiting tinder the balcony ? My uncle is so very 
mad. If he were to see — see any strangers — 
I mean, even aristocratic ones — I couldn't answer 
for the consequences." 

" Perhaps," said the flower-hatted lady ner- 
vously, " it would be better for us to try and 
find a lodging ourselves ? " 

" I wouldn't advise you to," said Gerald as 
grimly as he knew how ; " the police here arrest 
all strangers. It's the new law the Liberals 
have just made," he added convincingly, "and 
you'd get the sort of lodging you wouldn't care 
for — I couldn't bear to think of you in a prison 
dungeon," he added tenderly. 

" I ah wi oo er papers," said the respectable 
Ugly-Wugly, and added something that sounded 
like " disgraceful state of things." 

However, they ranged themselves under the 
iron balcony. Gerald gave one last look at 
them and wondered, in his secret heart, why 
he was not frightened, though in his outside 
mind he was congratulating himself on his 
bravery. For the things did look rather horrid. 


In that light it was hard to believe that 
they were really only clothes and pillows 
and sticks — with no insides. As he went up 
the steps he heard them talking among them- 
selves — in that strange language of theirs, all 
oo's and ah's ; and he thought he distinguished 
the voice of the respectable Ugly-Wugly saying, 
"Most gentlemanly lad," and the wreathed- 
hatted lady answering warmly : " Yes, indeed." 

The coloured-glass door closed behind him. 
Behind him was the yard, peopled by seven 
impossible creatures. Before him lay the silent 
house, peopled, as lie knew very well, by five 
human beings as frightened as human beings 
could be. You think, perhaps, that Ugly- 
Wuglies are nothing to be frightened of. 
That's only because you have never seen one 
come alive. You just make one — any old suit 
of your father's, and a hat that he isn't wearing, 
a bolster or two, a painted paper face, a few 
sticks and a pair of boots will do the trick ; get 
your father to lend you a wishing ring, give it 
back to him when it has done its work, and see 
how you feel then. 

Of course the reason why Gerald was not 
afraid was that he had the ring ; and, as you 
have seen, the wearer of that is not frightened 
by anything unless he touches that thing. But 
Gerald knew well enough how the others must 
be feeling. That was why he stopped for a 
moment in the hall to try and imagine what 
would have been most soothing to him if he 
had been as terrified as he knew they were. 


" Cathy ! I say ! What ho, Jimmy ! Mabel 
ahoy ! " he cried in a loud, cheerful voice that 
sounded very unreal to himself. 

The dining-room door opened a cautious 

" I say — such larks ! " Gerald went on, shoving 
gently at the door with his shoulder. " Look 
out ! what are you keeping the door shut for?" 

" Are you — alone ? " asked Kathleen in 
hushed, breathless tones. 

" Yes, of course. Don't be a duffer ! " 

The door opened, revealing three scared faces 
and the disarranged chairs where that odd 
audience had sat. 

" Where are they ? Have you unwished 
them ? We heard them talking. Horrible ! " 

" They're in the yard," said Gerald with the 
best imitation of joyous excitement that he 
could manage. " It is such fun ! " They're just 
like real people, quite kind and jolly. It's 
the most ripping lark. Don't let on to 
Mademoiselle and Eliza. I'll square them. 
Then Kathleen and Jimmy must go to bed, 
and I'll see Mabel home, and as soon as we 
get outside I must find some sort of lodging 
for the Ugly-Wuglies — they are such fun 
though. I do wish you could all go with me." 

" Fun ? " echoed Kathleen dismally and 

" Perfectly killing," Gerald asserted resolutely. 
" Now, you just listen to what I say to 
Mademoiselle and Eliza, and back me up for 
all you're worth," 


" But," said Mabel, " you can't mean that 
you're going to leave me alone directly we get 
out, and go off with those horrible creatures. 
They look like fiends.'' 

" You wait till you've seen them close," Gerald 
advised. ' ; Why, they're just ordinary — the first 
thing one of them did was to ask me to 
recommend it to a good hotel ! I couldn't 
understand it at first, because it has no roof to 
its mouth, of course." 

It was a mistake to say that, Gerald knew it 
at once. 

Mabel and Kathleen were holding hands in 
a way that plainly showed how a few moments 
ago they had been clinging to each other in an 
agony of terror. Now they clung again. And 
Jimmy, who was sitting on the edge of what 
had been the stage, kicking his boots against 
the pink counterpane, shuddered visibly. 

■' It doesn't matter" Gerald explained — " about 
the roofs, I mean ; you soon get to under- 
stand. I heard them say I was a gentlemanly 
lad as I was coming away. They wouldn't have 
cared to notice a little thing like that if they'd 
been fiends, you know." 

" It doesn't matter how gentlemanly they 
think you ; if you don't see me home you 
arent, that's all. Are you going to ? " Mabel 

" Of course I am. We shall have no end of 
a lark. Now for Mademoiselle." 

He had put on his coat as he spoke and now 
ran up the stairs. The others, herding in the 



hall, could hear his light-hearted there's-nothing- 
imusual-the - matter- whatever-did - you-bolt - like- 
that-for knock at Mademoiselle's door, the 
reassuring "It's only me — Gerald, you know,'' 
the pause, the opening of the door, and the low- 
voiced parley that followed ; then Mademoiselle 
and Gerald at Eliza's door, voices of reassurance ; 
Eliza's terror, bluntly voluble, tactfully soothed. 

" Wonder what lies he's telling them," Jimmy 

" Oh ! not lies," said Mabel ; " he's only telling 
them as much of the truth as it's good for them 
to know." 

" If you'd been a man," said Jimmy wither- 
ingly, " you'd have been a beastly Jesuit, and hid 
up chimneys." 

" If I were only just a boy," Mabel retorted, 
" I shouldn't be scared out of my life by a pack 
of old coats." 

" I'm so sorry you were frightened," Gerald's 
honeyed tones floated down the staircase ; " we 
didn't think about you being frightened. And it 
ivas a good trick, wasn't it ? " 

" There ! " whispered Jimmy, "he's been telling 
her it was a trick of ours." 

"Well, so it was," said Mabel stoutly. 

" It was indeed a wonderful trick," said 
Mademoiselle ; " and how did you move the 
mannikins ? " 

" Oh, we've often done it — with strings, you 
know," Gerald explained. 

" That's true, too," Kathleen whispered. 

"Let us see you do once again this trick so 



remarkable," said Mademoiselle, arriving at the 
bottom-stair mat. 

" Oh, I've cleared them all out," said Gerald. 
(" So he has," from Kathleen aside to Jimmy.) 
" We were so sorry you were startled ; 
we thought you wouldn't like to see them 

" Then," said Mademoiselle brightly, as she 
peeped into the untidy dining-room and saw 
that the figures had indeed vanished, " if we 
supped and discoursed of your beautiful piece 
of theatre ? " 

Gerald explained fully how much his brother 
and sister would enjoy this. As for him — 
Mademoiselle would see that it was his duty 
to escort Mabel home, and kind as it was of 
Mademoiselle to ask her to stay the night, it 
could not be, on account of the frenzied and 
anxious affection of Mabel's aunt. And it was 
useless to suggest that Eliza should see Mabel 
home, because Eliza was nervous at night unless 
accompanied by her gentleman friend. 

So Mabel was hatted with her own hat and 
cloaked with a cloak that was not hers ; and 
she and Gerald went out by the front door, 
amid kind last words and appointments for the 

The moment that front door was shut Gerald 
caught Mabel by the arm and led her briskly to 
the corner of the side street which led to the 
yard. Just round the corner he stopped. 

" Now," he said, " what I want to know is— - 
are you an idiot or aren't you?" 


" Idiot yourself!" said Mabel, but mechanically, 
for she saw that he was in earnest. 

" Because Fm not frightened of the Ugly- 
Wuglies. They're as harmless as tame rabbits. 
But an idiot might be frightened, and give the 
whole show away. If you're an idiot, say so, 
and I'll go back and tell them you're afraid to 
walk home, and that I'll go and let your aunt 
know you're stopping." 

" I'm not an idiot," said Mabel ; " and," she 
added, glaring round her with the wild gaze 
of the truly terror-stricken, " I'm not afraid of 

"I'm going to let you share my difficulties and 
dangers," said Gerald ; "at least, I'm inclined to 
let you. I wouldn't do as much for my own 
brother, I can tell you. And if you queer my 
pitch I'll never speak to you again or let the 
others either." 

" You're a beast, that's what you are ! I don't 
need to be threatened to make me brave. I cm." 

"Mabel," said Gerald, in low, thrilling tones, 
for he saw that the time had come to sound 
another note, "I know you're brave. I believe 
in you. That's why I've arranged it like this. 
I'm certain you've got the heart of a lion under 
that black-and-white exterior. Can I trust you? 
To the death?" 

Mabel felt that to say anything but " Yes " 
was to throw away a priceless reputation for 
courage. So " Yes " was what she said. 

" Then wait here. You're close to the lamp. 
And when you see me coming with theni re- 


member they're as harmless as serpents — I mean 
doves. Talk to them just like you would to any 
one else. See ? " 

He turned to leave her, but stopped at her 
natural question : 

" What hotel did you say you were going to 
take them to ? " 

" Oh, Jimminy ! " the harassed Gerald caught 
at his hair with both hands. " There ! you see, 
Mabel, you're a help already " ; he had, even at 
that moment, some tact left. " I clean forgot ! 
I meant to ask you — isn't there any lodge or 
anything in the Castle grounds where I could 
put them for the night? The charm will break, 
you know, some time, like being invisible did, 
and they'll just be a pack of coats and things 
that we can easily carry home any day. Is there 
a lodge or anything ? " 

" There's a secret passage," Mabel began — but 
at that moment the yard-door opened and an 
Ugly-Wugly put out its head and looked 
anxiously down the street. 

" Risfhto ! " — Gerald ran to meet it. It was all 
Mabel could do not to run in an opposite direc- 
tion with an opposite motive. It was all she 
could do, but she did it, and was proud of 
herself as long as ever she remembered that 

And now, with all the silent precaution 
necessitated by the near presence of an ex- 
tremely insane uncle, the Ugly-Wuglies, a grisly 
band, trooped out of the yard door. 

" Walk on your toes, dear," the bonneted Ugly- 


Wugly whispered to the one with a wreath ; and 
even at that thrilling crisis Gerald wondered 
how she could, since the toes of one foot were 
but the end of a golf club and of the other the 
end of a hockey-stick. 

Mabel felt that there was no shame in retreat- 
ing to the lamp-post at the street corner, but, 
once there, she made herself halt — and no one 
but Mabel will ever know how much making 
that took. Think of it — to stand there, firm and 
quiet, and wait for those hollow, unbelievable 
things to come up to her, clattering on the pave- 
ment with their stumpy feet or borne along noise- 
lessly, as in the case of the flower-hatted lady, 
by a skirt that touched the ground, and had, 
Mabel knew very well, nothing at all inside it. 

She stood very still ; the insides of her hands 
grew cold and damp, but still she stood, saying 
over and over again : " They're not true — they 
can't be true. It's only a dream — they aren't 
really true. They can't be." And then Gerald 
was there, and all the Ugly-Wuglies crowding 
round, and Gerald saying : — 

"This is one of our friends, Mabel — the Princess 
in the play, you know. Be a man ! " he added in 
a whisper for her ear alone. 

Mabel, all her nerves stretched tight as banjo 
strings, had an awful instant of not knowing 
whether she would be able to be a man or 
whether she would be merely a shrieking and 
running little mad girl. For the respectable 
Ugly- Wugly shook her limply by the hand (" He 
cant be true," she told herself), and the rose- 


wreathed one took her arm with a soft-padded 
glove at the end of an umbrella arm, and said: — 

" You dear, clever little thing ! Do walk with 
me ! " in a gashing, girlish way, and in speech 
almost wholly lacking in consonants. 

Then they all walked up the High Street as if, 
as Gerald said, they were anybody else. 

It was a strange procession, but Liddlesby goes 
early to bed, and the Liddlesby police, in common 
with those of most other places, wear boots that 
one can hear a mile off. If such boots had been 
heard, Gerald would have had time to turn back 
and head them off. He felt now that he could 
not resist a flush of pride in Mabel's courage 
as he heard her polite rejoinders to the still 
more polite remarks of the amiable Ugly- 
Wuglies. He did not know how near she was to 
the scream that would throw away the whole 
thing and bring the police and the residents out 
to the ruin of everybody. 

They met no one, except one man, who 
murmured, "Guy Fawkes, swelp me!" and 
crossed the road hurriedly; and when, next day, 
he told what he had seen, his wife disbelieved 
him, and also said it was a judgment on him, 
which was unreasonable. 

Mabel felt as though she w r ere taking part in 
a very completely arranged nightmare, but 
Gerald was in it too, Gerald, who had asked 
if she was an idiot. Well, she wasn't. But she 
soon would be, she felt. Yet she went on 
answering the courteous vowel-talk of these 
impossible people. She had often heard her 


aunt speak of impossible people. Well, now she 
knew what they were like. 

Summer twilight had melted into summer 
moonlight. The shadows of the Ugly-Wuglies 
on the white road were much more horrible 
than their more solid selves. Mabel wished it 
had been a dark night, and then corrected the 
wish with a hasty shudder. 

Gerald, submitting to a searching interro- 
gatory from the tall-hatted Ugly-Wugly as 
to his schools, his sports, pastimes, and ambi- 
tions, wondered how long the spell would last. 
The ring seemed to work in sevens. Would 
these things have seven hours' life — or fourteen 
— or twenty-one? His mind lost itself in the 
intricacies of the seven-times table (a teaser at 
the best of times) and only found itself with 
a shock when the procession found itself at the 
gates of the Castle grounds. 

Locked — of course. 

" You see," he explained, as the Ugly-Wuglies 
vainly shook the iron gates with incredible 
hands ; " it's so very late. There is another 
way. But you have to climb through a hole." 

" The ladies," the respectable Ugly-Wugly 
began objecting ; but the ladies with one voice 
affirmed that they loved adventures. " So 
frightfully thrilling," added the one who wore 

So they went round by the road, and coming 
to the hole — it was a little difficult to find in the 
moonlight, which always disguises the most 
familiar things — Gerald went first with the 


bicycle lantern which he had snatched as his 
pilgrims came out of the yard ; the shrinking 
Mabel followed, and then the Ugly-Wuglies, 
with hollow rattlings of their wooden limbs 
against the stone, crept through, and with 
strange vowel-sounds of general amazement, 
manly courage, and feminine nervousness, 
followed the light along the passage through 
the fern-hung cutting and under the arch. 

When they emerged on the moonlit enchant- 
ment of the Italian garden a quite intelligible 
" Oh! " of surprised admiration broke from more 
than one painted paper lip ; and the respect- 
able Ugly-Wugly was understood to say that 
it must be quite a show-place — by George, 
sir ! yes. 

Those marble terraces and artfully serpen- 
tining gravel walks surely never had echoed 
to steps so strange. No shadows so wildly 
unbelievable had, for all its enchantments, ever 
fallen on those smooth, gray, dewy lawns. 
Gerald was thinking this, or something like 
it (what he really thought was, " I bet there 
never was such a go as this, even here ! "), when 
he saw the statue of Hermes leap from its 
pedestal and run towards him and his company 
with all the lively curiosity of a street boy 
eager to be in at a street light. He saw, too, 
that he was the only one who perceived that 
white advancing presence. And he knew that 
it was the ring that let him see what by others 
could not be seen. He slipped it from his finger. 
Yes ; Hermes was on his pedestal, still as the 


snow man you make in the Christmas holidays. 
He put the ring on again, and there was 
Hermes, circling round the group and gazing 
deep in each unconscious Ugly-Wugly face. 

"This seems a very superior hotel," the tall- 
hatted Ugly-Wugly was saying ; " the grounds 
are laid out with what you might call taste." 

" We should have to go in by the back door," 
said Mabel suddenly. " The front door's locked 
at half -past nine." 

A short, stout Ugly-Wugly in a yellow and 
blue cricket caj), who had hardly spoken, 
muttered something about an escapade, and 
about feeling quite young again. 

And now they had skirted the marble-edged 
pool where the gold fish swam and glimmered, 
and where the great prehistoric beast had come 
down to bathe and drink. The water flashed 
white diamonds in the moonlight, and Gerald 
alone of them all saw that the scaly-plated vast 
lizard was even now rolling and wallowing there 
among the lily pads. 

They hastened up the steps of the Temple of 
Flora. The back of it, where no elegant arch 
opened to the air, was against one of those 
sheer hills, almost cliffs, that diversified the 
landscape of that garden. Mabel passed behind 
the statue of the goddess, fumbled a little, and 
then Gerald's lantern, hashing like a search- 
light, showed a very high and very narrow 
doorway : the stone that was the door, and that 
had closed it, revolved slowly under the touch of 
Mabel's fingers. 


" This way," she said, and panted a little. The 
back of her neck felt cold and goose-fleshy. 

"You lead the way, my lad, with the lantern,'' 
said the suburban Ugly-Wugly in his bluff, 
agreeable way. 

" I — I must stay behind to close the door," said 

"The Princess can do that. Well help her," 
said the wreathed one with effusion ; and Gerald 
thought her horribly officious. 

He insisted gently that he would be the one 
responsible for the safe shutting of that door. 

" You wouldn't like me to get into trouble, I'm 
sure," he urged ; and the Ugly-Wuglies, for the 
last time kind and reasonable, agreed that this, 
of all things, they would most deplore. 

" You take it," Gerald urged, pressing the 
bicycle lamp on the elderly Ugly-Wugly ; 
" you're the natural leader. Go straight ahead. 
Are there any steps ? " he asked Mabel in a 

" Not for ever so long," she whispered back. 
" It goes on for ages, and then twists round." 

" Whispering," said the smallest Ugly-Wugly 
suddenly, " ain't manners." 

" He hasn't any, anyhow," whispered the lady 
Ugly-Wugly ; " don't mind him — quite a self- 
made man," and squeezed Mabel's arm with 
horrible confidential flabbiness. 

The respectable Ugly-Wugly leading with the 
lamp, the others following trustfully, one and all 
disappeared into that narrow doorway ; and 
Gerald and Mabel standing without, hardly 


daring to breathe lest a breath should retard 
the procession, almost sobbed with relief. Pre- 
maturely, as it turned out. For suddenly there 
was a rush and a scuffle inside the passage, and 
as they strove to close the door the Ugly- 
Wuglies fiercely pressed to open it again. 
Whether they saw something in the dark 
passage that alarmed them, whether they took 
it into their empty heads that this could not be 
the back way to any really respectable hotel, or 
whether a convincing sudden instinct warned 
them that they were being tricked, Mabel and 
Gerald never knew. But they knew that the 
Ugly - Wuglies were no longer friendly and 
commonplace, that a fierce change had come 
over them. Cries of "No, Xo ! " " We won't go 
on!" "Make him lead !" broke the dreamy stillness 
of the perfect night. There were screams from 
ladies' voices, the hoarse, determined shouts of 
strong Ugly- Wuglies roused to resistance, and, 
worse than all, the steady pushing open of that 
narrow stone door that had almost closed upon 
the ghastly crew. Through the chink of it they 
could be seen, a writhing black crowd against 
the light of the bicycle lamp ; a padded hand 
reached round the door ; stick-boned arms 
stretched out angrily towards the world that 
that door, if it closed, would shut them off from 
for ever. And the tone of their consonantless 
speech was no longer conciliatory and ordinary : 
it was threatening, full of the menace of unbear- 
able horrors. 

The padded hand fell on Gerald's arm. and 


instantly all the terrors that he had, so far, 
only known in imagination hecanie real to him, 
and he saw, in the sort of flash that shows drown- 
ing people their past lives, what it was that he 
had asked of Mabel, and that she had given. 

"Push, push for your life!" he cried, and 
setting his heel against the pedestal of Flora, 
pushed manfully. 

" I can't any more — oh, I can't ! " moaned 
Mabel, and tried to use her heel likewise, but 
her legs were too short. 

" They mustn't get out, they mustn't ! " Gerald 

" You'll know it when we do," came from 
inside the door in tones which fury and mouth- 
rooflessness would have made unintelligible to 
any ears but those sharpened by the wild fear 
of that unspeakable moment. 

" What's up, there ? " cried suddenly a new 
voice — a voice with all its consonants comfort- 
ing, clean-cut, and ringing, and abruptly a 
new shadow fell on the marble floor of Flora's 

" Come and help push ! " Gerald's voice only 
just reached the newcomer. "If they get out 
they'll kill us all." 

A strong, velveteen-covered shoulder pushed 
suddenly between the shoulders of Gerald and 
Mabel; a stout man's heel sought the aid of the 
goddess's pedestal ; the heavy, narrow door 
yielded slowly, it closed, its spring clicked, and 
the furious, surging, threatening mass of Ugly- 
Wuglies was shut in, and Gerald and Mabel — 


oh, incredible relief ! — were shut out. Mabel 
threw herself on the marble floor, sobbing slow, 
heavy sobs of achievement and exhaustion. If 
I had been there I should have looked the other 
way, so as not to see whether Gerald yielded 
himself to the same abandonment. 

The newcomer — he appeared to be a game- 
keeper, Gerald decided later — looked down on — 
well, certainly on Mabel, and said : 

" Come on, don't be a little duffer." (He may 
have said, " a couple of little duffers.") " Who 
is it, and what's it all about ? " 

" I can't possibly tell you," Gerald panted. 

" We shall have to see about that, shan't we," 
said the newcomer amiably. " Come out into 
the moonlight and let's review the situation." 

Gerald, even in that topsy-turvy state of his 
world, found time to think that a gamekeeper 
who used such words as that had most likely 
a romantic past. But at the same time he saw 
that such a man would be far less easy to 
" square " with an unconvincing tale than Eliza, 
or Johnson, or even Mademoiselle. In fact, he 
seemed, with the onty tale that they had to tell, 
practically unsquarable. 

Gerald got up — if he was not up already, or 
still up — and pulled at the limp and now hot 
hand of the sobbing Mabel ; and as he did so the 
unsquarable one took his hand, and thus led 
both children out from under the shadow of 
Flora's dome into the bright white moonlight 
that carpeted Flora's steps. Here he sat down, 
a child on each side of him, drew a hand of each 


through his velveteen arm, pressed them to his 
velveteen sides in a friendly, reassuring way, 
and said : " Now then ! Go ahead ! " 

Mabel merely sobbed. We must excuse her. 
She had been very brave, and I have no doubt 
that all heroines, from Joan of Are to Grace 
Darling, have had their sobbing moments. 

But Gerald said : "It's no use. If I made up 
a story you'd see through it." 

" That's a compliment to my discernment, 
anyhow," said the stranger. " What price 
telling me the truth ? " 

" If we told you the truth," said Gerald, " you 
wouldn't believe it." 

" Try me," said the velveteen one. He was 
clean-shaven, and had large eyes that sparkled 
when the moonlight touched them. 

" I cant" said Gerald, and it was plain that he 
spoke the truth. "You'd either think we were 
mad, and get us shut up, or else — oh, it's no 
good. Thank you for helping us, and do let us 
go home." 

" I wonder," said the stranger musingly, 
"whether you have any imagination." 

" Considering that we invented them," Gerald 
hotly began, and stopped with late prudence. 

"If by ' them ' you mean the people whom 
I helped you to imprison in yonder tomb," said 
the stranger, loosing Mabel's hand to put his 
arm round her, " remember that I saw and 
heard them. And with all respect to your 
imagination, I doubt whether any invention of 
yours would be quite so convincing." 



Gerald put his elbows on his knees and his 
chin in his hands. 

" Collect yourself," said the one in velveteen ; 
" and while you are collecting, let me just put 
the thing from my point of view. I think you 
hardly realise my position. I come down from 
London to take care of a big estate." 

" I thought you were a gamekeeper," put in 

Mabel put her head on the stranger's shoulder. 
" Hero in disguise, then, / know," she sniffed. 

" Not at all," said he ; " bailiff would be nearer 
the mark. On the very first evening I go out 
to take the moonlit air, and approaching a 
white building, hear sounds of an agitated 
scuffle, accompanied by frenzied appeals for 
assistance. Carried away by the enthusiasm of 
the moment, I do assist and shut up goodness 
knows who behind a stone door. Now, is it 
unreasonable that I should ask who it is that 
I've shut up — helped to shut up, I mean, and 
who it is that I've assisted ? " 

" It's reasonable enough," Gerald admitted. 

" Well then," said the stranger. 

"Well then," said Gerald, " the fact is No," 

he added after a pause, " the fact is, I simply 
can't tell you." 

" Then I must ask the other side," said Vel- 
veteens. "Let me go — I'll undo that door and 
find out for myself." 

" Tell him," said Mabel, speaking for the first 
time. " Never mind if he believes or not. We 
can't have them let out." 


"Very well," said Gerald, "I'll tell him. Now 
look here, Mr. Bailiff, will you promise us on 
an English gentleman's word of honour — be- 
cause, of course, I can see you're that, bailiff or 
not — will you promise that you won't tell any 
one what we tell you and that you won't have 
us put in a lunatic asylum, however mad we 

" Yes," said the stranger, " I think I can 
promise that. But if you've been having a 
sham fight or anything and shoved the other 
side into that hole, don't you think you'd better 
let them out? They'll be most awfully fright- 
ened, you know. After all, I suppose they are 
only children." 

" Wait till you hear," Gerald answered. 
"They're not children — not much ! Shall I just 
tell about them or begin at the beginning?" 

" The beginning, of course," said the stranger. 

Mabel lifted her head from his velveteen 
shoulder and said, " Let me begin, then. I found 
a ring, and I said it would make me invisible. 
I said it in play. And it did. I was invisible 
twenty-one hours. Never mind where I got the 
ring. Now, Gerald, you go on." 

Gerald went on ; for quite a long time he 
went on, for the story was a splendid one 
to tell. 

"And so," he ended, " we got them in there; 
and when seven hours are over, or fourteen, or 
twenty-one, or something with a seven in it, 
they'll just be old coats again. They came alive 
at half-past nine. / think they'll stop being it 


in seven hours — that's half -past four. Note will 
you let us go home ? " 

" I'll see you home," said the stranger in a 
quite new tone of exasperating gentleness. 
" Come — let's be going." 

" You don't believe us," said Gerald. " Of 
course you don't. Nobody could. But I could 
make you believe if I chose." 

All three stood up, and the stranger stared in 
Gerald's eyes till Gerald answered his thought. 

"No, I don't look mad, do I ? " 

" No, you aren't. But, come, you're an extra- 
ordinarily sensible boy ; don't you think you 
may be sickening for a fever or something ? " 

" And Cathy and Jimmy and Mademoiselle 
and Eliza, and the man who said ' Guy Fawkes, 
swelp me ! ' and you, you saw them move — 
you heard them call out. Are you sickening for 
anything ? " 

" No — or at least not for anything but in- 
formation. Come, and I'll see you home." 

"Mabel lives at the Towers," said Gerald, as 
the stranger turned into the broad drive that 
leads to the big gate. 

" No relation to Lord Yalding," said Mabel 
hastily — " housekeeper's niece." She was holding 
on to his hand all the way. At the servants' 
entrance she put up her face to be kissed, and 
went in. 

" Poor little thing ! " said the bailiff, as they 
went down the drive towards the gate. 

He went with Gerald to the door of the 


" Look here," said Gerald at parting. ' ; I 
know what you're going to do. You're going 
to try to undo that door." 

" Discerning ! " said the stranger. 

" Well — don't. Or, any way, wait till day- 
light and let us be there. We can get there 
by ten." 

"All right— I'll meet you there by ten," 
answered the stranger. " By George ! you're the 
rummest kids I ever met." 

" We are rum," Gerald owned, " but so would 

you be if Good night." 


As the four children went over the smooth 
lawn towards Flora's Temple they talked, as 
they had talked all the morning, about the 
adventures of last night and of Mabel's bravery. 
It was not ten, but half-past twelve ; for Eliza, 
backed by Mademoiselle, had insisted on their 
" clearing up," and clearing up very thoroughly, 
the " litter " of last night. 

" You're a Victoria Cross heroine, dear," said 
Cathy warmly. " You ought to have a statue 
put up to you." 

" It would come alive if you put it here," said 
Gerald grimly. 

" / shouldn't have been afraid," said Jimmy. 

" By daylight," Gerald assured him, " every- 
thing looks so jolly different." 

" I do hope he'll be there," Mabel said ; " he was 
such a dear, Cathy — a perfect bailiff, with the 
soul of a gentleman." 

" He isn't there, though," said Jimmy. " I 

H • ft. « i^k ii_i_ fi. ^ 


believe you just dreamed him, like you did the 
statues coming alive." 

They went up the marble steps in the sun- 
shine, and it was difficult to believe that this 
was the place where only in last night's moon- 
light fear had laid such cold hands on the hearts 
of Mabel and Gerald. 

"Shall we open the door," suggested Kathleen, 
" and begin to carry home the coats ? " 

" Let's listen first," said Gerald ; " perhaps they 
aren't only coats yet." 

They laid ears to the hinges of the stone door, 
behind which last night the Ugly-Wuglies had 
shrieked and threatened. All was still as the 
sweet morning itself. It was as they turned 
away that they saw the man they had come to 
meet. He was on the other side of Flora's 
pedestal. But he was not standing up. He lay 
there, quite still, on his back, his arms flung wide. 

" Oh, look ! " cried Cathy, and pointed. His 
face was a queer greenish colour, and on his 
forehead there was a cut; its edges were blue, 
and a little blood had trickled from it on to the 
white of the marble. 

At the same time Mabel pointed too — but she 
did not cry out as Cathy had done. And what 
she pointed at was a big glossy-leaved rhododen- 
dron bush, from which a painted pointed paper 
face peered out — very white, very red, in the 
sunlight — and, as the children gazed, shrank 
back into the cover of the shining leaves. 


It was but too plain. The unfortunate bailiff 
must have opened the door before the spell had 
faded, while yet the Ugly-Wuglies were some- 
thing more than mere coats and hats and sticks. 
They had rushed out upon him, and had done 
this. He lay there insensible — was it a golf-club 
or a hockey-stick that had made that horrible 
cut on his forehead? Gerald wondered. The 
girls had rushed to the sufferer; already his 
head was in Mabel's lap. Kathleen had tried 
to get it on to hers, but Mabel was too quick 
for her. 

Jimmy and Gerald both knew what was the 
first thing needed by the unconscious, even 
before Mabel impatiently said : " Water ! 
water ! " 

" What in ? " Jimmy asked, looking doubtfully 
at his hands, and then down the green slope 
to the marble-bordered pool where the water- 
lilies Avere. 

" Your hat — anything," said Mabel. 

The two boys turned away. 

"Suppose they come after us," said Jimmy. 



" What come after us ? " Gerald snapped 
rather than asked. 

"The Ugly-Wuglies," Jimmy whispered. 

" Who's afraid ? " Gerald inquired. 

But he looked to right and left very carefully, 
and chose the way that did not lead near the 
bushes. He scooped water up in his straw hat 
and returned to Flora's Temple, carrying it 
carefully in both hands. When he saw how 
quickly it ran through the straw he pulled his 
handkerchief from his breast pocket with his 
teeth and dropped it into the hat. It was with 
this that the girls wiped the blood from the 
bailiffs brow. 

" We ought to have smelling salts," said Kat h- 
leen, half in tears. " I know we ought." 

"They would be good," Mabel owned. 

" Hasn't your aunt any? " 

" Yes, but " 

" Don't be a coward," said Gerald ; " think of 
last night. They wouldn't hurt you. He must 
have insulted them or something. Look here, 
you run. We'll see that nothing runs after you." 

There was no choice but to relinquish the 
head of the interesting invalid to Kathleen ; so 
Mabel did it, cast one glaring glance round the 
rhododendron bordered slope, and fled towards 
the castle. 

The other three bent over the still unconscious 

"He's not dead, is he?" asked Jimmy 

" No," Kathleen reassured him, " his heart's 


beating. Mabel and I felt it in his wrist, where 
doctors do. How frightfully good- looking he is !" 

"Not so dusty," Gerald admitted. 

" I never know what you mean by good- 
looking," said Jimmy, and suddenly a shadow 
fell on the marble beside them and a fourth 
voice spoke — not Mabel's ; her hurrying figure, 
though still in sight, was far away. 

" Quite a personable young man," it said. 

The children looked up — into the face of the 
eldest of the Ugly-Wuglies, the respectable one. 
Jimmy and Kathleen screamed. I am sorry, 
but they did. 

" Hush ! " said Gerald savagely : he was still 
wearing the ring. " Hold your tongues ! I'll 
get him away," he added in a whisper. 

" Very sad affair this," said the respectable 
Ugly-Wugly. He spoke with a curious accent ; 
there was something odd about his r's, and his 
m's and n's were those of a person labouring 
under an almost intolerable cold in the head. 
But it was not the dreadful " oo " and "ah" voice 
of the night before. Kathleen and Jimmy 
stooped over the bailiff. Even that prostrate 
form, being human, seemed some little protec- 
tion. But Gerald, strong in the fearlessness 
that the ring gave to its wearer, looked full into 
the face of the Ugly-Wugly — and started. For 
though the face was almost the same as the face 
he had himself painted on the school drawing- 
paper, it was not the same. For it was no longer 
paper. It was a real face, and the hands, lean 
and almost transparent as they were, were real 


hands. As it moved a little to get a better 
view of the bailiff it was plain that it had 
legs, arms — live legs and arms, and a self- 
supporting backbone. It was alive indeed — 
with a vengeance. 

" How did it happen ? " Gerald asked with an 
effort at calmness — a successful effort. 

" Most regrettable," said the Ugly-Wugly. 
" The others must have missed the way last 
night in the passage. They never found the 

" Did you ? " asked Gerald blankly. 

" Of course," said the Ugly-Wugly. " Most 
respectable, exactly as you said. Then when 
I came away — I didn't come the front way 
because I wanted to revisit this sylvan scene 
by daylight, and the hotel people didn't seem 
to know how to direct me to it — I found the 
others all at this door, very angry. They'd been 
here all night, trying to get out. Then the door 
opened — this gentleman must have opened it — 
and before I could protect him, that underbred 
man in the high hat — you remember " 

Gerald remembered. 

" Hit him on the head, and he fell where 
you see him. The others dispersed, and I 
myself was just going for assistance when 
I saw you." 

Here Jimmy was discovered to be in tears 
and Kathleen white as any drawing-paper. 

" What's the matter, my little man ? " said the 
respectable Ugly-Wugly kindly. Jimmy passed 
instantly from tears to yells. 


"Here, take the ring!" said Gerald in a furious 
whisper, and thrust it on to Jimmy's hot, damp, 
resisting finger. Jimmy's voice stopped short 
in the middle of a howl. And Gerald in a cold 
flash realised what it was that Mabel had gone 
through the night before. But it was daylight, 
and Gerald was not a coward. 

" We must find the others," he said. 

" I imagine," said the elderly Ugly-Wugly, 
" that they have gone to bathe. Their clothes 
are in the wood." 

He pointed stiffly. 

" You two go and see," said Gerald. " I'll go 
on dabbing this chap's head." 

In the wood Jimmy, now fearless as any lion, 
discovered four heaps of clothing, with broom- 
sticks, hockey-sticks, and masks complete, all 
that had gone to make up the gentlemen Ugly- 
Wuglies of the night before. On a stone seat 
well in the sun sat the two lady Ugly-Wuglies, 
and Kathleen approached them gingerly. 
Valour is easier in the sunshine than at night, 
as we all know. When she and Jimmy came 
close to the bench, they saAV that the Ugly- 
Wuglies were only Ugly-Wuglies such as they 
had often made. There was no life in them. 
Jimmy shook them to pieces, and a sigh of 
relief burst from Kathleen. 

"The spell's broken, you see," she said; "and 
that old gentleman, he's real. He only happens 
to be like the Ugly-Wugly we made." 

" He's got the coat that hung in the hall on, 
anyway," said Jimmy. 



" No, it's only like it. Let's get back to the 
unconscious stranger." 

They did, and Gerald begged the elderly 
Ugly-Wugly to retire among the bushes with 
Jimmy ; " because," said he, " I think the poor 
bailiff's coming round, and it might upset him 
to see strangers — and Jimmy'll keep you 
company. He's the best one of us to go with 
you," he added hastily. 

And this, since Jimmy had the ring, was 
certainly true. 

So the two disappeared behind the rhodo- 
dendrons. Mabel came back with the salts 
just as the bailiff opened his eyes. 

"It's just like life," she said; "I might just 

as well not have gone. However " She 

knelt down at once and held the bottle 
under the sufferer's nose till he sneezed and 
feebly pushed her hand away with the faint 
question : 

" What's up now ? " 

" You've hurt your head," said Gerald. " Lie 

" No — more — smelling-bottle," he said weakly, 
and lay. 

Quite soon he sat up and looked round him. 
There was an anxious silence. Here was a 
grown-up who knew last night's secret, and 
none of the children were at all sure what the 
utmost rigour of the law might be in a case 
where people, no matter how young, made 
Ugly-Wuglies, and brought them to life — 
dangerous, fighting, angry life. What would 


he say — what would he do ? He said : " What 
an odd thing! Have I been insensible long?" 

" Hours," said Mabel earnestly. 

" Not long," said Kathleen. 

" We don't know. We found you like it," said 

"I'm all right now," said the bailiff, and his 
eye fell on the blood-stained handkerchief. " I 
say, I did give my head a bang. And you've 
been giving me first aid. Thank you most 
awfully. But it is rum." 

" What's rum ? " politeness obliged Gerald 
to ask. 

" Well, I suppose it isn't really ram — I expect I 
saw you just before I fainted, or whatever it was — 
but I've dreamed the most extraordinary dream 
while I've been insensible, and you were in it." 

"Nothing but us?" asked Mabel breathlessly. 

"Oh, lots of things —impossible things — but 
you were real enough." 

Every one breathed deeply in relief. It was 
indeed, as they agreed later, a lucky let-off. 

" Are you sure you're all right ? " they all 
asked, as he got on his feet. 

" Perfectly, thank you." He glanced behind 
Flora's statue as he spoke. " Do you know, 
I dreamed there was a door there, but of 
course there isn't. I don't know how to thank 
you," he added, looking at them with what the 
girls called his beautiful, kind eyes ; " it's lucky 
for me you came along. You come here when- 
ever you like, you know," he added. " I give 
you the freedom of the place." 


"You're the new bailiff, aren't you?" said 

" Yes. How did you know ? " lie asked 
quickly ; but they did not tell him how they 
knew. Instead, they found out which way he 
was going, and went the other way after warm 
hand-shakes and hopes on both sides that they 
would meet again soon. 

" I'll tell you what," said Gerald, as they 
watched the tall, broad figure of the bailiff 
grow smaller across the hot green of the grass 
slope, " have you got any idea of how we're 
going to spend the day ? Because I have." 

The others hadn't. 

"We'll get rid of that Ugly-Wugly — oh, we'll 
find a way right enough — and directly we've 
done it we'll go home and seal up the ring in 
an envelope so that its teeth'll be drawn and 
it'll be powerless to have unforeseen larks with 
us. Then we'll get out on the roof, and have 
a quiet day — books and apples. I'm about 
fed up with adventures, so I tell you." 

The others told him the same thing. 

" Now, think" said he — " think as you never 
thought before — how to get rid of that Ugly- 

Every one thought, but their brains were 
tired with anxiety and distress, and the 
thoughts they thought were, as Mabel said, 
not worth thinking, let alone saying. 

" I suppose Jimmy's all right," said Kathleen 

" Oh, he's all right : he's got the ring," said 


"I hope he won't go wishing anything rotten," 
said Mabel, but Gerald urged her to shut up and 
let him think. 

"I think I think best sitting down," he said, 
and sat ; " and sometimes you can think best 
aloud. The Ugly-Wugly s real — don't make any 
mistake about that. And lie got made real 
inside that passage. If we could get him back 
there he might get changed again, and then 
we could take the coats and things back." 

"Isn't there any other way ?" Kathleen asked ; 
and Mabel, more candid, said bluntly : ' ; I'm not 
going into that passage, so there ! " 

" Afraid ! In broad daylight," Gerald sneered. 

" It wouldn't be broad daylight in there," said 
Mabel, and Kathleen shivered. 

" If we went to him and suddenly tore his 
coat off," said she — " he is only coats — he 
couldn't go on being real then." 

" Couldn't he ! " said Gerald. " You don't 
know what he's like under the coat." 

Kathleen shivered again. And all this time 
the sun was shining gaily and the white 
statues and the green trees and the fountains 
and terraces looked as cheerfully romantic as 
a scene in a play. 

" Any way," said Gerald, " we'll try to get 
him back, and shut the door. That's the most 
we can hope for. And then apples, and " Robin- 
son Crusoe " or the " Swiss Family/' or any book 
you like that's got no magic in it. Now, we've 
just got to do it. And he's not horrid now ; 
really he isn't. He's real, you see." 



" I suppose that makes all the difference," said 
Mabel, and tried to feel that perhaps it did. 

"And it's broad daylight — just look at the 
sun," Gerald insisted. " Come on ! " 

He took a hand of each, and they walked 
resolutely towards the bank of rhododendrons 
behind which Jimmy and the Ugly-Wugly 
had been told to wait, and as they went Gerald 
said : " He's real " — " The sun's shining " — " It'll 
all be over in a minute." And he said these 
things again and again, so that there should 
be no mistake about them. 

As they neared the bushes the shining leaves 
rustled, shivered, and parted, and before the girl 
had time to begin to hang back Jimmy came 
blinking out into the sunlight. The boughs 
closed behind him, and they did not stir or 
rustle for the appearance of auy one else. 
Jimmy was alone. 

" Where is it ? " asked the girls in one 

"Walking up and down in a fir-walk," said 
Jimmy, " doing sums in a book. He says he's 
most frightfully rich, and he's got to get up 
to town to the Stocks or something — where 
they change papers into gold if you're clever, 
he says. I should like to go to the Stocks- 
change, wouldn't you?" 

" I don't seem to care very much about 
changes," said Gerald. " I've had enough. 
Show us where he is — we must get rid of 

" He's got a motor-car," Jimmy went on, 


parting the warm varnished-looking rhododen- 
dron leaves, " and a garden with a tennis-court 
and a lake and a carriage and pair, and he goes 
to Athens for his holiday sometimes, just like 
other people go to Margate." 

" The best thing," said Gerald, following 
through the bushes, "will be to tell him the 
shortest way out is through that hotel that 
he thinks he found last night. Then we get 
him into the passage, give him a push, fly back, 
and shut the door." 

"He'll starve to death in there," said Kath- 
leen, " if he's really real." 

" I expect it doesn't last long, the ring 
magics don't — anyway, it's the only thing I 
enn think of." 

" He's frightfully rich," Jimmy went on un- 
heeding amid the cracking of the bushes; "he's 
building a public library for the people where 
he lives, and having his portrait painted to put 
in it. He thinks they'll like that." 

The belt of rhododendrons was passed, and 
the children had reached a smooth grass walk 
bordered by tall pines and firs of strange 
different kinds. "He's just round that corner," 
said Jimmy. " He's simply rolling in money. 
He doesn't know what to do with it. He's 
been building a horse-trough and drinking 
fountain with a bust of himself on top. Why 
doesn't he build a private swimming-bath close 
to his bed, so that he can just roll off into it of 
a morning ? I wish / was rich ; I'd soon show 
him " 


" That's a sensible wish," said Gerald. " I 
wonder we didn't think of doing that. Oh, 
criky ! " he added, and with reason. For there, 
in the green shadows of the pine- walk, in the 
woodland silence, broken only by rustling leaves 
and the agitated breathing of the three unhappy 
others, Jimmy got his wish. By quick but 
perfectly plain-to-be-seen degrees Jimmy be- 
came rich. And the horrible thing Avas that 
though they could see it happening they did 
not know what was happening, and could not 
have stopped it if they had. All they could see 
was Jimmy, their own Jimmy, whom they had 
larked with and quarrelled with and made it up 
with ever since they could remember, Jimmy 
continuously and horribly growing old. The 
whole thing was over in a few seconds. Yet 
in those few seconds they saw him grow to a 
youth, a young man, a middle-aged man ; and 
then, with a sort of shivering shock, unspeak- 
ably horrible and definite, he seemed to settle 
down into an elderly gentleman, handsomely 
but rather dowdily dressed, who was looking 
down at them through spectacles and asking 
them the nearest way to the railway-station. 
If they had not seen the change take place, in 
all its awful details, they would never have 
guessed that this stout, prosperous, elderly 
gentleman with the high hat, the frock-coat, 
and the large red seal dangling from the 
curve of a portly waistcoat, was their own 
Jimmy. But, as they had seen it, they knew 
the dreadful truth. 


"Oh, Jimmy, dont!" cried Mabel desperately. 

Gerald said: "This is perfectly beastly," and 
Kathleen broke into wild weeping. 

"Don't cry, little girl!" said That-which-had- 
been -Jimmy ; "and you, boy, can't you give a 
civil answer to a civil question?" 

"He doesn't know us!" wailed Kathleen. 

"Who doesn't know you?" said That-which- 
had-been impatiently. 

" Y — y — you don't ! " Kathleen sobbed. 

" I certainly don't," returned That-which 

" but surely that need not distress you so 

" Oh, Jimmy, Jimmy, Jimmy ! " Kathleen 
sobbed louder than before. 

" He doesnt know us," Gerald owned, " or— 
look here, Jimmy, y — you aren't kidding, are 
you ? Because if you are it's simply abject 
rot ■" 

"My name is Mr. ," said That-which- 

had-been-Jimmy, and gave the name correctly. 
By the way, it will perhaps be shorter to call 
this elderly stout person who was Jimmy grown 
rich by some simpler name than I have just 
used. Let us call him "That"— short for "That- 
which-had-been- Jimmy." 

" What are we to do?" whispered Mabel, awe- 
struck ; and aloud she said : " Oh, Mr. James, 
or whatever you call yourself, do give me the 
ring." For on That's finger the fatal ring 
showed plain. 

"Certainly not," said That firmly. "You 
appear to be a very grasping child." 


"But what are you going to do?" Gerald 
asked in the flat tones of complete hopelessness. 

" Your interest is very flattering," said That. 
" Will you tell me, or won't you, the way to the 
nearest railway-station ? " 

" No," said Gerald, " we won't." 

" Then," said That, still politely, though quite 
plainly furious, " perhaps you'll tell me the way 
to the nearest lunatic asylum ? " 

" Oh, no, no, no ! " cried Kathleen. " You're 
not so bad as that." 

" Perhaps not. But you are," That retorted ; 
" if you're not lunatics you're idiots. However, 
I see a gentleman ahead who is perhaps sane. 
In fact, I seem to recognise him." A gentleman, 
indeed, was now to be seen approaching. It was 
the elderly Ugly-Wugly. 

" Oh ! don't you remember Jerry ? " Kathleen 
cried, " and Cathy, your own Cathy Puss Cat ? 
Dear, dear Jimmy, don't be so silly ! " 

hi Little girl," said That, looking at her crossly 
through his spectacles, " I am sorry you have 
not been better brought up." And he walked 
stiffly towards the Ugly-Wugly. Two hats 
were raised, a few words were exchanged, and 
two elderly figures walked side by side down the 
green pine-walk, followed by three miserable 
children, horrified, bewildered, alarmed, and, 
what is really worse than anything, quite at 
their wits' end. 

" He wished to be rich, so of course he is," 
said Gerald ; " he'll have money for tickets and 



" And when the spell breaks — it's sure to 
break, isn't it? — he'll find himself somewhere 
awful — perhaps in a really good hotel — and 
not know how he got there." 

" I wonder how long the Ugly-Wuglies' 
lasted," said Mabel. 

"Yes," Gerald answered, "that reminds me. 
Yon two must collect the coats and things. 
Hide them, anywhere you like, and we'll carry 
them home to-morrow — if there is any to- 
morrow," he added darkly. 

" Oh, don't ! " said Kathleen, once more breath- 
ing heavily on the verge of tears : "you 
wouldn't think everything could be so awful, 
and the sun shining like it does." 

" Look here," said Gerald, " of course I must 
stick to Jimmy. You two must go home to 
Mademoiselle and tell her Jimmy and I have 
gone off in the train with a gentleman — say he 
looked like an uncle. He does — some kinds of 
uncle. There'll be a beastly row afterwards, 
but it's got to be done." 

" It all seems thick with lies," said Kathleen ; 
" you don't seem to be able to get a word of 
truth in edgewise hardly." 

" Don't you worry," said her brother ; " they 
aren't lies — they're as true as anything else in 
this magic rot we've got mixed up in. It's like 
telling lies in a dream ; you can't help it." 

" Well, all I know is I wish it would stop." 

" Lot of use your wishing that is," said Gerald, 
exasperated. " So long. I've got to go, and 
you've got to stay. If it's any comfort to you, 


I don't believe any of it's real : it can't be ; it's 
too thick. Tell Mademoiselle Jimmy and I will 
be back to tea. If we don't happen to be I can't 
help it. I can't help anything, except perhaps 
Jimmy." He started to rim, for the girls had 
lagged, and the Ugly-Wugly and That (late 
Jimmy) had quickened their pace. 

The girls were left looking after them. 

"We've got to find these clothes," said Mabel, 
"simply got to. I used to want to be a heroine. 
It's different when it really comes to being, 
isn't it?" 

"Yes, very," said Kathleen. "Where shall 
we hide the clothes when we've got them ? 
Not — not that passage ? " 

" Never ! " said Mabel firmly ; " we'll hide them 
inside the great stone dinosaurus. He's hollow/' 

" He comes alive — in his stone," said Kathleen. 

" Not in the sunshine he doesn't," Mabel told 
her confidently, " and not without the ring." 

" There won't be any apples and books to-day," 
said Kathleen. 

"No, but we'll do the babiest thing we can do 
the minute we get home. We'll have a dolls' 
tea-party. That'll make us feel as if there 
wasn't really any magic." 

" It'll have to be a very strong tea party, 
then," said Kathleen doubtfully. 

And now we see Gerald, a small but quite 
determined figure, paddling along in the soft 
white dust of the sunny road, in the wake 


of two elderly gentlemen. His hand, in his 
trousers pocket, buries itself with a feeling of 
satisfaction in the heavy mixed coinage that 
is his share of the profits of his conjuring at 
the fair. His noiseless tennis-shoes bear him 
to the station, where, unobserved, he listens at 
the ticket office to the voice of That-which- 
was-James. " One first London," it says ; and 
Gerald, waiting till That and the Ugly-Wugly 
have strolled on to the platform, politely con- 
versing of politics and the Kaffir market, takes 
a third return to London. The train strides in, 
squeaking and puffing. The watched take their 
seats in a carriage blue-lined. The watcher 
springs into a yellow wooden compartment. 
A whistle sounds, a flag is waved. The train 
pulls itself together, strains, jerks, and starts. 

" I don't understand," says Gerald, alone in 
his third-class carriage, " how railway trains 
and magic can go on at the same time." 

And yet they do. 


Mabel and Kathleen, nervously peering among 
the rhododendron bashes and the bracken and 
the fancy fir-trees, find six several heaps of 
coats, hats, skirts, gloves, golf -clubs, hockey- 
sticks, broom-handles. They carry them, 
panting and damp, for the mid-day sun is 
pitiless, up the hill to where the stone dino- 
saurus looms immense among a forest of 
larches. The dinosaurus has a hole in his 
stomach. Kathleen shows Mabel how to " make 


a back " and climbs up on it into the cold, stony 
inside of the monster. Mabel hands up the 
clothes and the sticks. 

" There's lots of room," says Kathleen ; " its 
tail goes down into the ground. It's like a 
secret passage." 

" Suppose something comes out of it and 
jumps out at you," says Mabel, and Kathleen 
hurriedly descends. 

The explanations to Mademoiselle promise to 
be difficult, but, as Kathleen said afterwards, 
any little thing is enough to take a grown-up's 
attention off. A figure passes the window just 
as they are explaining that it really did look 
exactly like an uncle that the boys have gone 
to London with. 

"Who's that?" says Mademoiselle suddenly, 
pointing, too, which every one knows is not 

It is the bailiff coming back from the 
doctor's with antiseptic plaster on that nasty 
cut that took so long a-bathing this morning. 
They tell her it is the bailiff at Yalding 
Towers, and she says, "Sky!" {del!) and 
asks no more awkward questions about the 
boys. Lunch — very late — is a silent meal. 
After lunch Mademoiselle goes out, in a hat 
with many pink roses, carrying a rose-lined 
parasol. The girls, in dead silence, organise a 
dolls' tea-party, with real tea. At the second 
cup Kathleen bursts into tears. Mabel, also 
weeping, embraces her. 

" I wish," sobs Kathleen, " oh, I do wish I 


knew where the boys were ! It would be such 

a comfort." 


Gerald knew where the boys were, and it was 
no comfort to him at all. If you come to think 
of it, he was the only person who could know 
where they were, because Jimmy didn't know 
that he was a boy — and indeed he wasn't really 
— and the Ugly-Wugly couldn't be expected to 
know any thing real, such as where boys were. 
At the moment when the second cup of dolls' 
tea — very strong, but not strong enough to 
drown care in — was being poured out by 
the trembling hand of Kathleen, Gerald was 
lurking — there really is no other word for it — 
on the staircase of Aldermanbury Buildings, 
Old Broad Street. On the floor below him 
was a door bearing the legend "Mr. U. W. 
Ugli, Stock and Share Broker. And at the 
Stock Exchange," and on the floor above was 
another door, on which was the name of 
Gerald's little brother, now grown suddenly 
rich in so magic and tragic a way. There 
were no explaining words under Jimmy's 
name. Gerald could not guess what walk in 
life it was to which That (which had been 
Jimmy) owed its affluence. He had seen, when 
the door opened to admit his brother, a tangle 
of clerks and mahogany desks. Evidently That 
had a large business. 

What was Gerald to do? What could he do? 

It is almost impossible, especially for one so 
young as Gerald, to enter a large London office 


and explain that the elderly and respected head 
of it is not what he seems, but is really your 
little brother, who has been suddenly advanced 
to age and wealth by a tricky wishing ring. If 
you think it's a possible thing, try it, that's all. 
Nor could he knock at the door of Mr. U. W. 
Ugli, Stock and Share Broker (and at the Stock 
Exchange), and inform his clerks that their 
chief was really nothing but old clothes that 
had accidentally come alive, and by some magic, 
which he couldn't attempt to explain, become 
real during a night spent at a really good hotel 
which had no existence. 

The situation bristled, as you see, with diffi- 
culties. And it was so long past Gerald's 
proper dinner-time that his increasing hunger 
was rapidly growing to seem the most im- 
portant difficulty of all. It is quite possible 
to starve to death on the staircase of a London 
building if the people you are watching for only 
stay long enough in their offices. The truth of 
this came home to Gerald more and more 

A boy with hair like a new front door mat 
came whistling up the stairs. He had a dark 
blue bag in his hands. 

" I'll give you a tanner for yourself if you'll 
get me a tanner's worth of buns," said Gerald, 
with that prompt decision common to all great 

" Show us yer tanners," the boy rejoined with 
at least equal promptness. Gerald showed them. 
" All right ; hand over." 


"Payment on delivery," said Gerald, using 
words from the drapers which he had never 
thought to use. 

The boy grinned admiringly. 

" Knows 'is wy abaht," he said ; " ain't no flies 
on 'im." 

" Not many," Gerald owned with modest 
pride. " Cut along, there's a good chap. I've 
got to wait here. I'll take care of your bag 
if you like." 

" Nor yet there ain't no flies on me neither," 
remarked the boy, shouldering it. "I been up 
to the confidence trick for years — ever since 
I was your age." 

With this parting shot he went, and re- 
turned in due course bun-laden. Gerald gave 
the sixpence and took the buns. When the boy, 
a minute later, emerged from the door of Mr. 
U. W. Ugli, Stock and Share Broker (and at the 
Stock Exchange), Gerald stopped him. 

" What sort of chap's that ? " he asked, point- 
ing the question with a jerk of an explaining 

" Awful big pot," said the boy ; " up to his 
eyes in oof. Motor and all that." 

" Know anything about the one on the next 
landing ? " 

" He's bigger than what this one is. Very 
old firm — special cellar in the Bank of England 
to put his chink in — all in bins like against 
the wall at the corn-chandler's. Jimminy, I 
wouldn't mind 'alf an hour in there, and the 
doors open and the police away at a beano. 


Not much ! Neither. You'll bust if you eat 
all them buns." 

" Have one ? " Gerald responded, and held out 
the bag. 

" They say in our office," said the boy, paying 
for the bun honourably with unasked informa- 
tion, " as these two is all for cutting each other's 
throats — oh, only in the way of business — been 
at it for years." 

Gerald wildly wondered what magic and 
how much had been needed to give history 
and a past to these two things of yesterday, 
the rich Jimmy and the Ugly-Wugly. If he 
could get them away would all memory of 
them fade — in this boy's mind, for instance, 
in the minds of all the people who did business 
with them in the City ? Would the mahogany- 
and-clerk-f urnished offices fade away ? Were 
the clerks real ? Was the mahogany ? Was 
he himself real ? Was the boy ? 

" Can you keep a secret ? " he asked the other 
boy. " Are you on for a lark ? " 

" I ought to be getting back to the office," 
said the boy. 

" Get then ! " said Gerald. 

" Don't you get stuffy," said the boy. " I 
was just agoing to say it didn't matter. I 
know how to make my nose bleed if I'm a 
bit late." 

Gerald congratulated him on this accomplish- 
ment, at once so useful and so graceful, and 
then said : — 

" Look here. I'll give you five bob — honest." 


' What for ? " was the boy's natural question. 

" If you'll help me." 

"Fire ahead." 

" I'm a private inquiry," said Gerald. 

"'Tec? You don't look it." 

" What's the good of being one if you look 
it ? " Gerald asked impatiently, beginning on 
another bun. "That old chap on the floor 
above — he's wanted." 

" Police ? " asked the boy with fine care- 

" No — sorrowing relations." 

" ' Return to,' " said the boy ; " ' all forgotten 
and forgiven.' I see." 

" And I've got to get him to them, somehow. 
Now, if you could go in and give him a message 
from some one who wanted to meet him on 
business " 

" Hold on ! " said the boy. " I know a trick 
worth two of that. You go in and see old 
Ugli. He'd give his ears to have the old boy 
out of the way for a day or two. They were 
saying so in our office only this morning." 

" Let me think," said Gerald, laying down 
the last bun on his knee expressly to hold his 
head in his hands. 

" Don't you forget to think about my five 
bob," said the boy. 

Then there was a silence on the stairs, broken 
only by the cough of a clerk in That's office, and 
the clickety-clack of a typewriter in the office 
of Mr. U. W. Ugli. 

Then Gerald rose up and finished the bun. 



" You're right," he said. " I'll chance it. 
Here's your five bob." 

He brushed the bun crumbs from his 
front, cleared his throat, and knocked at 
the door of Mr. U. W. Ugli. It opened and 
he entered. 

The door-mat boy lingered, secure in his 
power to account for his long absence by means 
of his well-trained nose, and his waiting was 
rewarded. He went down a few steps, round 
the bend of the stairs, and heard the voice of 
Mr. U. W. Ugli, so well known on that stair- 
case (and on the Stock Exchange) say in soft, 
cautious accents : — ■ 

" Then I'll ask him to let me look at the 
ring — and I'll drop it. You pick it up. But 
remember, it's a pure accident, and you don't 
know me. I can't have my name mixed up in 
a thing like this. You're sure he's really un- 
hinged ? " 

" Quite," said Gerald ; " he's quite mad about 
that ring. He'll follow it anywhere. I know 
he will. And think of his sorrowing relations." 

"I do— I do," said Mr. Ugli kindly; "that's 
all I do think of, of course." 

He went up the stairs to the other office, 
and Gerald heard the voice of That telling 
his clerks that he was going out to lunch. 
Then the horrible Ugly-Wugly and Jimmy, 
hardly less horrible in the eyes of Gerald, passed 
down the stairs where, in the dusk of the lower 
landing, two boys were making themselves as 
undistinguishable as possible, and so out into the 


street, talking of stocks and shares, bears and 
balls. The two boys followed. 

" I say," the door-mat-headed boy whispered 
admiringly, "whatever are you up to?" 

" You'll see," said Gerald recklessly. " Come 
on ! 

" You tell me. I must be getting back." 

" Well, I'll tell you, but you won't believe me. 
That old gentleman's not really old at all — he's 
my young brother suddenly turned into what 
you see. The other's not real at all. He's 
only just old clothes and nothing inside." 

" He looks it, I must say," the boy admitted ; 
" but I say — you do stick it on, don't you ? " 

" Well, my brother was turned like that by 
a magic ring." 

"There ain't no such thing as magic," said 
the boy. " I learnt that at school." 

" All right," said Gerald. " Goodbye." 

" Oh, go ahead ! " said the boy ; " you do stick 
it on, though." 

" Well, that magic ring. If I can get hold 
of it I shall just wish we were all in a certain 
place. And we shall be. And then I can deal 
■with both of them." 


"Yes, the ring won't unwish anything 
you've wished. That undoes itself with time, 
like a spring uncoiling. But it'll give you a 
brand-new wish — I'm almost certain of it. Any- 
how, I'm going to chance it." 

"You are a rotter, aren't you?" said the boy 


" You wait and see/' Gerald repeated. 

" I say, you aren't going into this swell place ! 
you cant ? " 

The boy paused, appalled at the majesty of 

" Yes, I am — they can't turn us out as long 
as we behave. You come along, too. I'll stand 

I don't know why Gerald clung so to this 
boy. He wasn't a very nice boy. Perhaps it 
was because he was the only person Gerald 
knew in London, to speak to — except That- 
which-had-been-Jimmy and the Ugly-Wugly ; 
and he did not want to talk to either of them. 

What happened next happened so quickly 
that, as Gerald said later, it was "just like 
magic." The restaurant was crowded — busy 
men were hastily bolting the food hurriedly 
brought by busy waitresses. There was a clink 
of forks and plates, the gurgle of beer from 
bottles, the hum of talk, and the smell of many 
good things to eat. 

" Two chops, please," Gerald had just said, 
playing with a plainly shown handful of money, 
so as to leave no doubt of his honourable 
intentions. Then at the next table he heard 
the words, "Ah, yes, curious old family heir- 
loom," the ring was drawn off the finger of 
That, and Mr. U. W. Ugli, murmuring some- 
thing about a unique curio, reached his impos- 
sible hand out for it. The door-mat-headed 
boy was watching breathlessly. ' 

"There's a ring right enough," he owned. 


And then the ring slipped from the hand of 
Mr. U. W. Ugli and skidded along the floor. 
Gerald pounced on it like a greyhound on a hare. 
He thrust the dull circlet on his finger and cried 
out aloud in that crowded place : — 

" I wish Jimmy and I were inside that door 
behind the statue of Flora." 

It was the only safe place he could think of. 

The lights and sounds and scents of the 
restaurant died away as a wax-drop dies in 
fire — a rain-drop in water. I don't know, and 
Gerald never knew, what happened in that 
restaurant. There was nothing about it in the 
papers, though Gerald looked anxiously for 
Ci Extraordinary Disappearance of well-known 
City Man." What the door-mat-headed boy 
did or thought I don't know either. No more 
does Gerald. But he would like to know, 
whereas I don't care tuppence. The world 
went on all right, anyhow, whatever he thought 
or did. The lights and the sounds and the 
scents of Pym's died out. In place of the light 
there was darkness ; in place of the sounds there 
was silence ; and in place of the scent of beef, 
pork, mutton, fish, veal, cabbage, onions, carrots, 
beer, and tobacco there was the musty, damp 
scent of a place underground that has been 
long shut up. 

Gerald felt sick and giddy, and there was 
something at the back of his mind that he knew 
would make him feel sicker and giddier as soon 
as he should have the sense to remember what 
it was. Meantime it was important to think of 

"T+.\<t • *« <w^4.<.o; 



proper words to soothe the City man that had 
once been Jimmy — to keep him quiet till Time, 
like a spring uncoiling, should bring the reversal 
of the spell — make all things as they were and 
as they ought to be. l>ut he fought in vain for 
words. There were none. Nor were they needed. 
For through the dee}> darkness came a voice — 
and it was not the voice of that City man who 
had been Jimmy, but the voice of that very 
Jimmy who was Gerald's little brother, and who 
had wished that unlucky wish for riches that 
could only be answered by changing all that 
was Jimmy, young and poor, to all that Jimmy, 
rich and old, would have been. Another voice 
said : " deny, Jerry ! Are you awake ? — I've had 
such a rum dream." 

And then there was a moment when nothing 
was said or done. 

Gerald felt through the thick darkness, and 
the thick silence, and the thick scent of old 
earth shut up, and he got hold of Jimmy's hand. 

"It's all right, Jimmy, old chap," he said: 
" it's not a dream now. Its that beastly ring 
again. I had to wish us here, to get you back at 
all out of your dream." 

" Wish us where ? " Jimmy held on to the 
hand in a w r ay that in the daylight of life he 
would have been the first to call babyish. 

" Inside the passage — behind the Flora statue," 
said Gerald, adding, " it's all right, really." 

"Oh, I daresay it's all right," Jimmy answered 
through the dark, with an irritation not strong 
enough to make him loosen his hold of his 


brother's hand. " But hoic are we going to get 
out ? " 

Then Gerald knew what it was that was wait- 
ing to make him feel more giddy than the 
lightning flight from Cheaj)side to Yalding 
Towers had been able to make him. But he 
said stoutly : 

" I'll wish us out, of course." Though all the 
time he knew that the ring would not undo its 
given wishes. 

It didn't. 

Gerald wished. He handed the ring carefully 
to Jimmy, through the thick darkness. And 
Jimmy wished. 

And there they still were, in that black 
passage behind Flora, that had led — in the case 
of one Ugly-Wugly at least— to " a good hotel." 
And the stone door was shut. And they did not 
know even which way to turn to it. 

" If I only had some matches ! " said Gerald. 

"Why didn't you leave me in the dream?" 
Jimmy almost whimpered. " It was light there, 
and I was just going to have salmon and 

" I," rejoined Gerald in gloom, " was just 
going to have steak and fried potatoes." 

The silence, and the darkness, and the earthy 
scent were all they had now. 

"I always wondered what it would be like,' 
said Jimmy in low, even tones, " to be buried 
alive. And now I know ! Oh ! " his voice sud- 
denly rose to a shriek, " it isn't true, it isn't ! 
It's a dream — that's what it is ! " 


There was a pause while you could have 
counted ten. Then — 

" Yes," said Gerald bravely, through the scent 
and the silence and the darkness, " it's just a 
dream, Jimmy, old chap. We'll just hold on, 
and call out now and then just for the lark of 
the thing. But it's really only a dream, of 

"Of course," said Jimmy in the silence and 
the darkness and the scent of old earth. 


There is a curtain, thin as gossamer, clear as 
glass, strong as iron, that hangs for ever be- 
tween the world of magic and the world that 
seems to us to be real. And when once people 
have found one of the little weak spots in that 
curtain which are marked by magic rings, and 
amulets, and the like, almost anything may 
happen. Thus it is not surprising that Mabel 
and Kathleen, conscientiously conducting one of 
the dullest dolls' tea-parties at which either had 
ever assisted, should suddenly, and both at once, 
have felt a strange, unreasonable, but quite 
irresistible desire to return instantly to the 
Temple of Flora — even at the cost of leaving 
the dolls' tea-service in an unwashed state, and 
only half the raisins eaten. They went — as one 
has to go when the magic impulse drives one — 
against their better judgment, against their 
wills almost. 

And the nearer they came to the Temple of 
Flora, in the golden hush of the afternoon, the 
more certain each was that they could not 
possibly have done otherwise. 

And this explains exactly how it was that 



when Gerald and Jimmy, holding hands in the 
darkness of the passage, uttered their first con- 
certed yell, " just for the lark of the thing," that 
yell was instantly answered from outside. 

A crack of light showed in that part of the 
passage where they had least expected the door 
to be. The stone door itself swung slowly open, 
and they were out of it, in the Temple of Flora, 
blinking in the good daylight, an unresisting 
prey to Kathleen's embraces and the questionings 
of Mabel. 

"And you left that Ugly-Wugly loose in 
London," Mabel pointed out ; " you might have 
wished it to be with you, too." 

' ; It's all right where it is," said Gerald. " I 
couldn't think of everything. And besides, no, 
thank you ! Now we'll go home and seal up the 
ring in an envelope." 

"I haven't done anything with the ring yet," 
said Kathleen. 

" I shouldn't think you'd want to when you 
see the sort of things it does with you," said 

" It wouldn't do things like that if / was 
wishing with it," Kathleen protested. 

" Look here," said Mabel, " let's just put it 
back in the treasure-room and have done with 
it. I oughtn't ever to have taken it away, really. 
It's a sort of stealing. It's quite as bad, really, 
as Eliza borrowing it to astonish her gentleman 
friend with." 

" I don't mind putting it back if you like," 
said Gerald, " only if any of us do think of a 


sensible wish you'll let us have it out again, of 
course ? " 

" Of course, of course," Mabel agreed. 

So they trooped up to the castle, and Mabel 
once more worked the spring that let down the 
panelling and showed the jewels, and the ring 
was put back among the odd dull ornaments 
that Mabel had once said were magic. 

" How innocent it looks ! " said Gerald. " You 
wouldn't think there was any magic about it. 
It's just like an old silly ring. I wonder if what 
Mabel said about the other things is true ! 
Suppose we try." 

" Dont!" said Kathleen. " /think magic things 
are spiteful. ,They just enjoy getting you into 
tight places." 

"I'd like to try," said Mabel, "only— well, 
everything's been rather upsetting, and I've 
forgotten what I said anything was." 

So had the others. Perhaps that was why, 
when Gerald said that a bronze buckle laid on 
the foot would have the effect of seven-league 
boots, it didn't ; when Jimmy, a little of the City 
man he had been clinging to him still, said that 
the steel collar would ensure your always having 
money in your pockets, his own remained 
empty ; and when Mabel and Kathleen invented 
qualities of the most delightful nature for 
various rings and chains and brooches, nothing 
at all happened. 

"It's only the ring that's magic," said Mabel 
at last ; " and, I say ! " she added, in quite a 
different voice. 


" What ? " 

" Suppose even the ring isn't ! " 

" But we know it is." 

" I don't," said Mabel. " I believe it's not to- 
day at all. I believe it's the other day — we've 
just dreamed all these things. It's the day I 
made up that nonsense about the ring." 

" No, it isn't," said Gerald ; " you were in your 
Princess-clothes then." 

" What Princess-clothes ? " said Mabel, opening 
her dark eyes very wide. 

" Oh, don't be silly," said Gerald wearily. 

" I'm not silly," said Mabel ; " and I think it's 
time you went. I'm sure Jimmy wants his tea." 

" Of course I do," said Jimmy. " But you had 
got the Princess-clothes that day. Come along ; 
let's shut up the shutters and leave the ring in 
its long home." 

" What ring ? " said Mabel. 

"Don't take any notice of her," said Gerald. 
" She's only trying to be funny." 

" No, I'm not," said Mabel ; " but I'm inspired 
like a Python or a Sibylline lady. What ring ? " 

" The wishing-ring," said Kathleen ; " the in- 
visibility ring." 

" Don't you see now" said Mabel, her eyes 
wider than ever, " the ring's what you say it 
is? That's how it came to make us invisible — 
I just said it. Oh, we can't leave it here, if 
that's what it is. It isn't stealing, really, when 
it's as valuable as that, you see. Say what 

it IS. 

" It's a wishing-ring," said Jimmy. 


"We've had that before — and you had your 
silly wish," said Mabel, more and more excited. 
" I say it isn't a wishing-ring. I say it's a ring 
that makes the wearer four yards high." 

She had caught up the ring as she spoke, and 
even as she spoke the ring showed high above 
the children's heads on the finger of an im- 
possible Mabel, who was, indeed, twelve feet 

"Now you've done it!" said Gerald — and he 
was right. It was in vain that Mabel asserted 
that the ring was a wishing-ring. It quite 
clearly wasn't ; it was what she had said it was. 

" And you can't tell at all how long the effect 
will last," said Gerald. " Look at the invisible- 
ness." This is difficult to do, but the others 
understood him. 

" It may last for days," said Kathleen. " Oh, 
Mabel, it was silly of you ! " 

" That's right, rub it in," said Mabel bitterly ; 
" you should have believed me when I said it 
was what I said it was. Then I shouldn't have 
had to show you, and I shouldn't be this silly 
size. What am I to do now, I should like to 
know ? " 

" We must conceal you till you get your right 
size again — that's all," said Gerald practically. 

" Yes — but where ? " said Mabel, stamping a 
foot twenty-four inches long. 

" In one of the empty rooms. You wouldn't 
be afraid ? " 

" Of course not," said Mabel. " Oh, I do wish, 
we'd just put the ring back and left it." 


" Well, it wasn't us that didn't," said Jimmy, 
with more truth than grammar. 

" I shall put it hack now," said Mabel, tugging 
at it. 

" I wouldn't if I were you," said Gerald 
thoughtfully. " You don't want to stay that 
length, do you ? And unless the ring's on your 
linger when the time's up, 1 dare say it wouldn't 

The exalted Mabel sullenly touched the spring. 
The panels slowly slid into place, and all the 
bright jewels were hidden. Once more the room 
was merely eight-sided, panelled, sunlit, and 

" Now," said Mabel, " where am I to hide ? 
It's a good thing auntie gave me leave to stay 
the night with you. As it is, one of you will 
have to stay the night with me. I'm not going 
to be left alone, the silly height I am." 

Height was the right word ; Mabel had said 
" four yards high "—and she was four yards 
high. But she was hardly any thicker than 
when her height was four feet seven, and the 
effect was, as Gerald remarked, " wonderfully 
worm-like." Her clothes had, of course, grown 
with her, and she looked like a little girl re- 
flected in one of those long bent mirrors at 
Rosherville Gardens, that make stout people 
look so happily slender, and slender people so 
sadly scraggy. She sat down suddenly on the 
floor, and it was like a four-fold foot-rule folding 
itself up. 

" It's no use sitting there, girl," said Gerald. 


" I'm not sitting here," retorted Mabel ; " I 
only got down so as to be able to get through 
the door. It'll have to be hands and knees 
through most places for me now, I suppose." 

" Aren't you hungry ? " Jimmy asked suddenly. 

"I don't know," said Mabel desolately; "it's 
— it's such a long way off ! " 

" Well, I'll scout," said Gerald ; " if the coast's 
clear " 

"Look here," said Mabel, "I think I'd rather 
be out of doors till it gets dark."' 

" You cant. Some one's certain to see you." 

"Not if I go through the yew-hedge," said 
Mabel. " There's a yew-hedge with a passage 
along its inside like the box-hedge in 'The Luck 
of the Tails.' " 

"In tchat ;/" 

" ' The Luck of the Vails.' It's a ripping book. 
It was that book first set me on to hunt for 
hidden doors in panels and things. If I crept 
along that on my front, like a serpent — it comes 
out amongst the rhododendrons, close by the 
dinosaurus — we could camp there." 

" There's tea," said Gerald, who had had no 

"That's just what there isn't," said Jimmy, 
who had had none either. 

" Oh, you wont desert me ! " said Mabel. 
" Look here — I'll write to auntie. She'll give 
you the things for a picnic, if she's there and 
awake. If she isn't, one of the maids will." 

So she wrote on a leaf of Gerald's invaluable 
pocket-book : — 



" Dearest Auntie, — 

" Please may we have some things for a 
picnic ? Gerald will bring them. I would come 
myself, but I am a little tired. I think I have 
been growing rather fast. — Your loving niece, 

" Mabel." 

" P.S. — Lots, please, because some of us are 
very hungry." 

It was found difficult, but possible, for Mabel 
to creep along the tunnel in the yew-hedge. 
Possible, but slow, so that the three had hardly 
had time to settle themselves among the rhodo- 
dendrons and to wonder bitterly what on earth 
Gerald was up to, to be such a time gone, when 
he returned, panting under the weight of a 
covered basket. He dumped it down on the fine 
grass carpet, groaned, and added, " But it's worth 
it. Where's our Mabel ? " 

The long, pale face of Mabel peered out from 
rhododendron leaves, very near the ground. 

" I look just like anybody else like this, don't 
I ? " she asked anxiously ; " all the rest of me's 
miles away, under different bushes." 

" We've covered up the bits between the 
bushes with bracken and leaves," said Kathleen, 
avoiding the question ; " don't wriggle, Mabel, 
or you'll waggle them off." 

Jimmy was eagerly unpacking the basket. It 
was a generous tea. A long loaf, butter in a 
cabbage-leaf, a bottle of milk, a bottle of water, 
cake, and large, smooth, yellow gooseberries in 
a box that had once held an extra-sized bottle 


of somebody's matchless something for the hair 
and moustache. Mabel cautiously advanced her 
incredible arms from the rhododendron and 
leaned on one of her spindly elbows, Gerald cut 
bread and butter, while Kathleen obligingly ran 
round, at Mabel's request, to see that the green 
coverings had not dropped from any of the 
remoter parts of Mabel's person. Then there 
was a happy, hungry silence, broken only by 
those brief, impassioned suggestions natural to 
such an occasion : — 

" More cake, please." 

" Milk ahoy, there." 

" Chuck us the goosegogs." 

Everyone grew calmer — more contented with 
their lot. A pleasant feeling, half tiredness and 
half restfulness, crept to the extremities of the 
party. Even the unfortunate Mabel was con- 
scious of it in her remote feet, that lay crossed 
under the third rhododendron to the north- 
north-west of the tea-party. Gerald did but 
voice the feelings of the others when he said, 
not without regret : — 

" Well, I'm a new man, but I couldn't eat so 
much as another goosegog if you paid me." 

"/ could," said Mabel; "yes, I know they're 
all gone, and I've had my share. But I could. 
It's me being so long, I suppose." 

A delicious after- food peace filled the summer 
air. At a little distance the green-lichencd grey 
of the vast stone dinosaurus showed through 
the shrubs. He, too, seemed peaceful and 
happy. Gerald caught his stone eye through 


a gap in the foliage. His glance seemed some- 
how sympathetic. 

" I dare say he liked a good meal in his day," 
said Gerald, stretching luxuriously. 

"Who did?" 

" The dino what's-his-name," said Gerald. 

" He had a meal to-day," said Kathleen, and 

"Yes — didn't he?" said Mabel, giggling also. 

" You mustn't laugh lower than your chest," 
said Kathleen anxiously, " or your green stuff 
will joggle off." 

" What do you mean — a meal ? " Jimmy 
asked suspiciously. " What are you sniggering 
about ? " 

" He had a meal. Things to put in his inside," 
said Kathleen, still giggling. 

" Oh, be funny if you want to," said Jimmy, 
suddenly cross. " We don't want to know — do 
we, Jerry?" 

" I do," said Gerald witheringly ; " I'm dying 
to know. Wake me, you girls, when you've 
finished pretending you're not going to tell." 

He tilted his hat over his eyes, and lay back 
in the attitude of slumber. 

" Oh, don't be stupid ! " said Kathleen hastily. 
" It's only that we fed the dinosaurus through 
the hole in his stomach with the clothes the 
Ugly- Wuglies were made of ! " 

" We can take them home with us, then," said 
Gerald, chewing the white end of a grass stalk, 
" so that's all right." 

Look here," said Kathleen suddenly ; " I've 


got an idea. Let me have the ring a bit. I 
won't say what the idea is, in case it doesn't 
come off, and then you'd say I was silly. I'll 
give it back before we go." 

" Oh, but you aren't going yet ! " said Mabel, 
pleading. She pulled off the ring. " Of course," 
she added earnestly, " I'm only too glad for you 
to try any idea, however silly it is." 

Now, Kathleen's idea was quite simple. It 
was only that perhaps the ring would change 
its powers if some one else renamed it — some 
one who was not under the power of its en- 
chantment. So the moment it had passed from 
the long, pale hand of Mabel to one of her own 
fat, warm, red paws, she jumped up, crying, 
" Let's go and empty the dinosaurus now" and 
started to run swiftly towards that prehistoric 
monster. She had a good start. She wanted 
to say aloud, yet so that the others could not 
hear her, " This is a wishing-ring. It gives you 
any wish you choose." And she did say it. 
And no one heard her, except the birds and 
a squirrel or two, and perhaps a stone faun, 
whose pretty face seemed to turn a laughing 
look on her as she raced past its pedestal. 

The way was uphill ; it was sunny, and Kath- 
leen had run her hardest, though her brothers 
caught her up before she reached the great 
black shadow of the dinosaurus. So that when 
she did reach that shadow she was very hot 
indeed and not in any state to decide calmly on 
the best wish to ask for. 

" I'll get up and move the things down, 


because I know exactly where I put them," she 

Gerald made a back, Jimmy assisted her to 
climb up, and she disappeared through the hole 
into the dark inside of the monster. In a 
moment a shower began to descend from the 
opening — a shower of empty waistcoats, trousers 
with wildly waving legs, and coats with sleeves 

" Heads below ! " called Kathleen, and down 
came walking-sticks and golf-sticks and hockey- 
sticks and broom-sticks, rattling and chattering 
to each other as they came. 

" Come on," said Jimmy. 

" Hold on a bit," said Gerald. "I'm coming up." 
He caught the edge of the hole above in his 
hands and jumped. Just as he got his shoulders 
through the opening and his knees on the edge 
he heard Kathleen's boots on the floor of the 
dinosaurus's inside, and Kathleen's voice saying : 

" Isn't it jolly cool in here ? I suppose statues 
are always cool. I do wish I was a statue. 

The " oh " was a cry of horror and anguish. 
And it seemed to be cut off very short by a 
dreadful stony silence. 

" What's up ? " Gerald asked. But in his heart 
he knew. He climbed up into the great hollow. 
In the little light that came up through the hole 
he could see something white against the grey 
of the creature's sides. He felt in his pockets, 
still kneeling, struck a match, and when the 
blue of its flame changed to clear yellow he 


looked up to see what he had known he would 
see — the face of Kathleen, white, stony, and life- 
less. Her hair was white, too, and her hands, 
clothes, shoes — everything was white, with the 
hard, cold whiteness of marble. Kathleen had 
her wish : she was a statue. There was a long 
moment of perfect stillness in the inside of the 
dinosaurus. Gerald could not speak. It was 
too sudden, too terrible. It was worse than 
anything that had happened yet. Then he 
turned and spoke down out of that cold, stony 
silence to Jimmy, in the green, sunny, rustling, 
live world outside. 

" Jimmy," he said, in tones perfectly ordinary 
and matter of fact, ' : Kathleen's gone and said 
that ring was a wishing-ring. And so it was, 
of course. I see now what she was up to, 
running like that. And then the young duffer 
went and wished she was a statue." 

" And is she ? " asked Jimmy, below. 

" Come up and have a look," said Gerald. 
And Jimmy came, partly with a pull from 
Gerald and partly with a jump of his own. 

" She's a statue, right enough," he said, in 
awestruck tones. " Isn't it awful ! " 

" Not at all," said Gerald firmly. " Come on — 
let's go and tell Mabel." 

To Mabel, therefore, who had discreetly re- 
mained with her long length screened by 
rhododendrons, the two boys returned and 
broke the news. They broke it as one breaks 
a bottle with a pistol-shot. 

" Oh, my goodness ! " said Mabel, and writhed 



through her long length so that the leaves and 
fern tumbled off in little showers, and she felt 
the sun suddenly hot on the backs of her legs. 
" What next ? Oh, my goodness ! " 

" She'll come all right," said Gerald, with 
outward calm. 

" Yes ; but what about vie ? " Mabel urged. 
" I haven't got the ring. And my time will be 
up before hers is. Couldn't you get it back? 
Can't you get it off her hand ? I'd put it back 
on her hand the very minute I was my right 
size again — faithfully I would." 

" Well, it's nothing to blub about," said 
Jimmy, answering the sniffs that had served 
her in this speech for commas and full-stops ; 
" not for you, anyway." 

" Ah ! you don't know," said Mabel ; " you 
don't know what it is to be as long as I am. 
Do — do try and get the ring. After all, it is 
my ring more than any of the rest of yours, 
anyhow, because I did find it, and I did say it 
was magic." 

The sense of justice always present in the 
breast of Gerald awoke to this appeal. 

" I expect the ring's turned to stone — her 
boots have, and all her clothes. But I'll go 
and see. Only if I can't, I can't, and it's no use 
your making a silly fuss." 

The first match lighted inside the dinosaurus 
showed the ring dark on the white hand of the 
statuesque Kathleen. 

The fingers were stretched straight out. 
Gerald took hold of the ring, and, to his sur- 


prise, it slipped easily off the cold, smooth 
marble finger. 

"I say, Cathy, old girl, I am sorry," he said, 
and gave the marble hand a squeeze. Then it 
came to him that perhaps she could hear him. 
So he told the statue exactly what he and the 
others meant to do. This helped to clear up 
his ideas as to what he and the others did 
mean to do. So that when, after thumping the 
statue hear teningly on its marble back, he re- 
turned to the rhododendrons, he was able to 
give his orders with the clear precision of a 
born leader, as he later said. And since the 
others had, neither of them, thought of any 
plan, his plan was accepted, as the plans of born 
leaders are apt to be. 

" Here's your precious ring," he said to Mabel. 
" Now you're not frightened of anything, are 

" No," said Mabel, in surprise. " I'd forgotten 
that. Look here, I'll stay here or farther up 
in the wood if you'll leave me all the coats, 
so that I sha'n't be cold in the night. Then I 
shall be here when Kathleen comes out of the 
stone again." 

" Yes," said Gerald, " that was exactly the 
born leader's idea." 

"You two go home and tell Mademoiselle 
that Kathleen's staying at the Towers. She is." 

" Yes," said Jimmy, " she certainly is." 

" The magic goes in seven-hour lots," said 
Gerald ; " your invisibility was twenty-one 
hours, mine fourteen, Eliza's seven. When it 


was a wishing-ring it began with seven. But 
there's no knowing what number it will be 
really. So there's no knowing which of you 
will come right first. Anyhow, we'll sneak out 
by the cistern window and come down the 
trellis, after we've said good-night to Mademoi- 
selle, and come and have a, look at you before 
we go to bed. I think you'd better conic close 
up to the dinosaurus and we'll leaf you over 
before we go." 

Mabel crawled into cover of the taller trees, 
and there stood up looking as slender as a 
poplar and as unreal as the wrong answer to 
a sum in long division. It was to her an easy 
matter to crouch beneath the dinosaurus, to 
put her head up through the opening, and 
thus to behold the white form of Kathleen. 

" It's all right, dear," she told the stone 
image ; "I shall be quite close to you. You 
call me as soon as you feel you're coming 
right again." 

The statue remained motionless, as statues 
usually do, and Mabel withdrew her head, lay 
down, was covered up, and left. The boys went 
home. It was the only reasonable thing to do. 
It would never have done for Mademoiselle 
to become anxious and set the police on their 
track. Every one felt that. The shock of 
discovering the missing Kathleen, not only in 
a dinosaurus's stomach, but, further, in a stone 
statue of herself, might well have unhinged 
the mind of any constable, to say nothing of 
the mind of Mademoiselle, which, being foreign, 



would necessarily be a mind more light and easy 
to upset. While as for Mabel - 

"Well, to look at her as she is now," said 
Gerald, " why, it would send any one off their 
chump — except us." 

" We're different," said Jimmy ; " our chumps 
have had to jolly well get used to things. It 
would take a lot to upset us now." 

" Poor old Cathy ! all the same," said Gerald. 

" Yes, of course," said Jimmy. 

The sun had died away behind the black 
trees and the moon was rising. Mabel, her pre- 
posterous length covered with coats, waistcoats, 
and trousers laid along it, slept peacefully in 
the chill of the evening. Inside the dinosaurus 
Kathleen, alive in her marble, slept too. She 
had heard Gerald's words — had seen the lighted 
matches. She was Kathleen just the same as 
ever, only she was Kathleen in a case of marble 
that would not let her move. It would not 
have let her cry, even if she wanted to. 
But she had not wanted to cry. Inside, the 
marble was not cold or hard. It seemed, some- 
how, to be softly lined with warmth and 
pleasantness and safety. Her back did not 
ache with stooping. Her limbs were not stiff 
with the hours that they had stayed moveless. 
Everything was well — better than well. One 
had only to wait quietly and quite comfortably 
and one would come out of this stone case, 
and once more be the Kathleen one had always 
been used to being. So she waited happily and 


calmly, and presently waiting changed to not 
waiting — to not anything ; and, close held in 
the soft inwardness of the marble, she slept 
as peacefully and calmly as though she had 
been lying in her own bed. 

She was awakened by the fact that she was 
not lying in her own bed — was not, indeed, 
lying at all — by the fact that she was standing 
and that her feet had pins and needles in them. 
Her arms, too, held out in that odd way, were 
stiff and tired. She rubbed her eyes, yawned, 
and remembered. She had been a statue, a 
statue inside the stone dinosaurus. 

" Now I'm alive again," was her instant con- 
clusion, "and I'll get out of it." 

She sat down, put her feet through the hole 
that showed faintly grey in the stone beast's 
underside, and as she did so a long, slow lurch 
threw her sideways on the stone where she sat. 
The dijiosaurus was moving ! 

" Oh /" said Kathleen inside it, " how dreadful ! 
It must be moonlight, and it's come alive, like 
Gerald said." 

It was indeed moving. She could see through 
the hole the changing surface of grass and 
bracken and moss as it waddled heavily along. 
She dared not drop through the hole while 
it moved, for fear it should crush her to death 
with its gigantic feet. And with that thought 
came another : where was Mabel ? Somewhere 
— somewhere near $ Suppose one of the great 
feet planted itself on some part of Mabel's 
inconvenient length ? Mabel being the size 


she was now it would be quite difficult not 
to step on some part or other of her, if she 
should happen to be in one's way — quite 
difficult, however much one tried. And the 
dinosaurus would not try. Why should it ? 
Kathleen hung in an agony over the round 
opening. The huge beast swung from side 
to side. It was going faster ; it was no 
good, she dared not jump out. Anyhow, 
they must be quite away from Mabel by now. 
Faster and faster went the dinosaurus. The 
floor of its stomach sloped. They were going 
downhill. Twigs cracked and broke as it pushed 
through a belt of evergreen oaks ; gravel 
crunched, ground beneath its stony feet. Then 
stone met stone. There was a pause. A 
splash ! They were close to water — the lake 
where by moonlight Hermes fluttered and Janus 
and the dinosaurus swam together. Kathleen 
dropped swiftly through the hole on to the 
flat marble that edged the basin, rushed side- 
ways, and stood panting in the shadow of a 
statue's pedestal. Not a moment too soon, for 
even as she crouched the monster lizard slipped 
heavily into the water, drowning a thousand 
smooth, shining lily pads, and swam away 
towards the central island. 

" Be still, little lady. I leap ! " The voice 
came from the pedestal, and next moment 
Phcebus had jumped from the pedestal in his 
little temple, clearing the steps, and landing 
a couple of yards away. 

" You are new," said Phcebus over his graceful 



shoulder. " I should not have forgotten you 
if once I had seen you." 

"I am," said Kathleen, "quite, quite new. 
And I didn't know you could talk." 

" Why not ? " Phoebus laughed. " You can 

" But I'm alive." 

" Am not I ? " he asked. 

" Oh, yes, I suppose so," said Kathleen, dis- 
tracted, but not afraid ; " only I thought you 
had to have the ring on before one could even 
see you move." 

Phoebus seemed to understand her, which was 
rather to his credit, for she had certainly not 
expressed herself with clearness. 

" Ah ! that's for mortals," he said. " We can 
hear and see each other in the few^ moments 
when life is ours. That is a part of the beautiful 

" But I am a mortal," said Kathleen. 

" You are as modest as you are charming," 
said Phoebus Apollo absently ; " the white water 
calls me ! I go," and the next moment rings of 
liquid silver spread across the lake, widening 
and widening, from the spot where the white 
joined hands of the Sun-god had struck the 
water as he dived. 

Kathleen turned and went up the hill towards 
the rhododendron bushes. She must find Mabel, 
and they must go home at once. If only Mabel 
was of a size that one could conveniently take 
home with one ! Most likely, at this hour of 
enchantments, she was. Kathleen, heartened 



by the thought, hurried on. She passed through 
the rhododendron bushes, remembered the pointed 
painted paper face that had looked out from the 
glossy leaves, expected to be frightened — and 
wasn't. She found Mabel easily enough, and 
much more easily than she would have done 
had Mabel been as she wished to find her. For 
quite a long way off, in the moonlight, she could 
see that long and worm-like form, extended to 
its full twelve feet — and covered with coats and 
trousers and waistcoats. Mabel looked like a 
drain-pipe that has been covered in sacks in 
frosty weather. Kathleen touched her long 
cheek gently, and she woke. 

" What's up ? " she said sleepily. 

" It's only me," Kathleen explained. 

" How cold your hands are ! " said Mabel. 

"Wake up," said Kathleen, "and let's talk." 

" Can't we go home now ? I'm awfully tired, 
and it's so long since tea-time." 

" Youre too long to go home yet," said 
Kathleen sadly, and then Mabel remembered. 

She lay with closed eyes — then suddenly she 
stirred and cried out : — 

" Oh ! Cathy, I feel so funny — like one of those 
horn snakes when you make it go short to get it 
into its box. I am — yes — I know I am " 

She was ; and Kathleen, watching her, agreed 
that it was exactly like the shortening of a horn 
spiral snake between the closing hands of a 
child. Mabel's distant feet drew near — Mabel's 
long, lean arms grew shorter — Mabel's face was 
no longer half a yard long. 


" You're coming right — you are ! Oh, I am so 
glad ! " cried Kathleen. 

" I know I am," said Mabel ; and as she said it 
she became once more Mabel, not only in herself. 
which, of course, she had been all the time, but 
in her outward appearance. 

" You are all right. Oh, hooray ! hooray ! I 
am so glad!" said Kathleen kindly ; "and now 
we'll go home at once, dear." 

" Go home ? " said Mabel, slowly sitting up and 
staring at Kathleen with her big dark eyes. 
" Go home— like that ? " 

" Like what? " Kathleen asked impatiently. 

" Why, 2/oi6," was Mabel's odd reply. 

" I'm all right," said Kathleen. " Come on." 

" Do you mean to say you don't know ? " said 
Mabel. "Look at yourself — your hands — your 
dress — everything." 

Kathleen looked at her hands. They were of 
marble whiteness. Her dress, too — her shoes, 
her stockings, even the ends of her hair. She 
was white as new-fallen snow. 

" What is it ? " she asked, beginning to tremble. 
" What am I all this horrid colour for ? " 

" Don't you see ? Oh, Cathy, don't you see ? 
You've not come right. You're a statue still." 

" I'm not — I'm alive — I'm talking to you." 

" I know you are, darling," said Mabel, soothing 
her as one soothes a fractious child. " That's 
because it's moonlight." 

" But you can see I'm alive." 

" Of course I can. I've got the ring." 

" But I'm all right ; I know I am." 



" Don't you see," said Mabel gently, taking her 
white marble hand, " you're not all right ? It's 
moonlight, and you're a statue, and you've just 
come alive with all the other statues. And when 
the moon goes down you'll just be a statue 
again. That's the difficulty, dear, about our 
going home again. You're just a statue still, 
only you've come alive with the other marble 
things. Where's the dinosaurus ? " 

"In his bath," said Kathleen, "and so are all 
the other stone beasts." 

" Well," said Mabel, trying to look on the 
bright side of things, "then we've got one thing, 
at any rate, to be thankful for ! " 


" If," said Kathleen, sitting disconsolate in her 
marble, " if I am really a statue come alive, I 
wonder you're not afraid of me." 

" I've got the ring," said Mabel with decision. 
" Cheer up, dear ! you will soon be better. Try 
not to think about it." 

She spoke as you speak to a child that has cut 
its finger, or fallen down on the garden path, 
and rises up with grazed knees to which gravel 
sticks intimately. 

" I know," Kathleen absently answered. 

"And I've been thinking," said Mabel brightly, 
" we might find out a lot about this magic 
place, if the other statues aren't too proud to 
talk to us." 

" They aren't," Kathleen assured her ; " at 
least, Phoebus wasn't. He was most awfully 
polite and nice." 

" Where is he ? " Mabel asked. 

" In the lake — he was," said Kathleen. 

" Then let's go down there," said Mabel. " Oh, 
Cathy ! it is jolly being your own proper 
thickness again." She jumped up, and the 
withered ferns and branches that had covered 



her long length and had been gathered closely 
upon her as she shrank to her proper size 
fell, as forest leaves do when sudden storms 
tear them. But the white Kathleen did not 

The two sat on the grey moonlit grass with 
the quiet of the night all about them. The 
great park was still as a painted picture ; only 
the splash of the fountains and the far-off 
whistle of the Western express broke the silence, 
which, at the same time, they deepened. 

" What cheer, little sister ! " said a voice be- 
hind them — a golden voice. They turned quick, 
startled heads, as birds, surprised, might turn. 
There in the moonlight stood Phoebus, dripping 
still from the lake, and smiling at them, very 
gentle, very friendly. 

" Oh, it's you ! " said Kathleen. 

"None other," said Phoebus cheerfully. " Who 
is your friend, the earth-child ? " 

" This is Mabel," said Kathleen. 

Mabel got up and bowed, hesitated, and held 
out a hand. 

"I am your slave, little lady," said Phcebus, 
enclosing it in marble fingers. " But I fail to 
understand how you can see us, and why you 
do not fear." 

Mabel held up the hand that wore the ring. 

" Quite sufficient explanation," said Phcebus ; 
" but since you have that, why retain your 
mottled earthy appearance? Become a statue, 
and swim with us in the lake." 

" I can't swim," said Mabel evasively. 


" Nor yet me," said Kathleen. 

" You can," said Phoebus. " All statues that 
come to life are proficient in all athletic exercises. 
And you, child of the dark eyes and hair like 
night, wish yourself a statue and join our 

" I'd rather not, if you will excuse me," said 
Mabel cautiously. " You see . . . this ring . . . 
you wish for things, and you never know how 
long they're going to last. It would be jolly 
and all that to be a statue ?iow, but in the 
morning I should wish I hadn't." 

" Earth-folk often do, they say," mused 
Phoebus. " But, child, you seem ignorant of 
the powers of your ring. Wish exactly, and 
the ring will exactly perform. If you give no 
limit of time, strange enchantments woven by 
Arithmos the outcast god of numbers will 
creep in and spoil the spell. Say thus : ' I 
wish that till the dawn I may be a statue of 
living marble, even as my child friend, and 
that after that time I may be as before, Mabel 
of the dark eyes and night-coloured hair." 

" Oh, yes, do, it would be so jolly ! " cried 
Kathleen. " Do, Mabel ! And if we're both 
statues, shall we be afraid of the dinosaurus ? " 

"In the world of living marble fear is not," 
said Phoebus. " Are we not brothers, we and 
the dinosaurus, brethren alike wrought of 
stone and life ? " 

" And could I swim if I did ? " 

"Swim, and float, and dive — and with the 
ladies of Olympus spread the nightly feast, eat 


of the food of the gods, drink their cup, listen 
to the song that is undying, and catch the 
laughter of immortal lips." 

"A feast!" said Kathleen. "Oh, Mabel, do! 
You would if you were as hungry as I am." 

" But it won't be real food," urged Mabel. 

" It will be real to you, as to us," said Phoebus ; 
" there is no other realness even in your many- 
coloured world." 

Still Mabel hesitated. Then she looked at 
Kathleens legs and suddenly said : — 

"Very well, I will. But first I'll take off my 
shoes and stockings. Marble boots look simply 
awful — especially the laces. And a marble 
stocking that's coming down — and mine do ! " 

She had pulled off shoes and stockings and 

" Mabel has the sense of beauty," said Phoebus 
approvingly. "Speak the spell, child, and I will 
lead you to the ladies of Olympus." 

Mabel, trembling a little, spoke it, and there 
were two little live statues in the moonlit glade. 
Tall Phoebus took a hand of each. 

" Come — run ! " he cried. And they ran. 

"Oh — it is jolly!" Mabel panted. "Look at my 
white feet in the grass ! I thought it would feel 
stiff to be a statue, but it doesn't." 

"There is no stiffness about the immortals." 
laughed the Sun-god. "For to-night you are 
one of us." 

And with that they ran down the slope to the 

"Jump!" he cried, and they jumped, and the 


water splashed up round three white, gleaming 

" Oh ! I can swim ! " breathed Kathleen. 

" So can I," said Mabel. 

" Of course you can," said Phoebus. " Now 
three times round the lake, and then make for 
the island." 

Side by side the three swam, Phoebus swim- 
ming gently to keep pace with the children. 
Their marble clothes did not seem to interfere 
at all with their swimming, as your clothes 
would if you suddenly jumped into the basin 
of the Trafalgar Square fountains and tried to 
swim there. And they swam most beautifully, 
with that perfect ease and absence of effort or 
tiredness which you must have noticed about 
your own swimming — in dreams. And it was 
the most lovely place to swim in ; the water- 
lilies, whose long, snaky stalks are so incon- 
venient to ordinary swimmers, did not in the 
least interfere with the movements of marble 
arms and legs. The moon was high in the clear 
sky-dome. The weeping willows, cypresses, 
temples, terraces, banks of trees and shrubs, 
and the wonderful old house, all added to the 
romantic charm of the scene. 

" This is the nicest thing the ring has brought 
us yet," said Mabel, through a languid but perfect 

" I thought you'd enjoy it," said Phcebus 
kindly ; " now once more round, and then the 

They landed on the island amid a fringe of 


rushes, yarrow, willow-herb, loose-strife, and a 
few late, scented, powdery, creamy heads of 
meadow-sweet. The island was bigger than it 
looked from the bank, and it seemed covered 
with trees and shrubs. But when, Phoebus 
leading the way, they went into the shadow of 
these, they perceived that beyond the trees lay 
a light, much nearer to them than the other 
side of the island could possibly be. And almost 
at once they were through the belt of trees, and 
could see where the light came from. The trees 
they had just passed among made a dark circle 
round a big cleared space, standing up thick and 
dark, like a crowd round a football field, as 
Kathleen remarked. 

First came a wide, smooth ring of lawn, then 
marble steps going down to a round pool, 
where there were no water-lilies, only gold and 
silver fish that darted here and there like flashes 
of quicksilver and dark flames. And the en- 
closed space of water and marble and grass was 
lighted with a clear, white, radiant light, seven 
times stronger than the whitest moonlight, and 
in the still waters of the pool seven moons lay 
reflected. One could see that they were only 
reflections by the way their shape broke and 
changed as the gold and silver fish rippled 
the water with moving fin and tail that 

The girls looked up at the sky, almost expect- 
ing to see seven moons there. But no, the old 
moon shone alone, as she had always shone on 


" There are seven moons," said Mabel blankly, 
and pointed, which is not manners. 

"Of course," said Phoebus kindly; "everything 
in our world is seven times as much so as in 

" But there aren't seven of you," said Mabel. 

" No, but I am seven times as much," said the 
Sun God. " You see, there's numbers, and there's 
quantity, to say nothing of quality. You see 
that, I'm sure." 

" Not quite," said Kathleen. 

" Explanations always weary me," Phcebus 
interrupted. " Shall we join the ladies V " 

On the further side of the pool was a large 
group, so white, that it seemed to. make a great 
white hole in the trees. Some twenty or thirty 
figures there were in the group — all statues and 
all alive. Some were dipping their white feet 
among the gold and silver fish, and sending 
ripples across the faces of the seven moons. 
Some were pelting each other with roses — roses 
so sweet that the girls could smell them even 
across the pool. Others were holding hands 
and dancing in a ring, and two were sitting on 
the steps playing cat's-cradle — which is a very 
ancient game indeed — with a thread of white 
m arble. 

As the new-comers advanced a shout of greet- 
ing and gay laughter went up. 

" Late again, Phcebus ! " some one called out. 
And another : " Did one of your horses cast a 
shoe ? " And yet another called out something 
about laurels. 


" I bring two guests," said Phoebus, and 
instantly the statues crowded round, stroking 
the girls' hair, patting their cheeks, and calling 
them the prettiest love-names. 

" Are the wreaths ready, Hebe ? " the tallest 
and most splendid of the ladies called out. 
" Make two more ! " 

And almost directly Hebe came down the 
steps, her round arms hung thick with rose- 
wreaths. There was one for each marble 

Every one now looked seven times more 
beautiful than before, which, in the case of the 
gods and goddesses, is saying a good deal. The 
children remembered how at the raspberry 
vinegar feast Mademoiselle had said that gods 
and goddesses always wore wreaths for meals. 

Hebe herself arranged the roses on the girls' 
heads — and Aphrodite Urania, the dearest lady 
in the world, with a voice like mother's at those 
moments when you love her most, took them 
by the hands and said : — 

" Come, we must get the feast ready. Eros — 
Psyche — Hebe — Ganymede — all you young 
people can arrange the fruit." 

" I don't see any fruit," said Kathleen, as four 
slender forms disengaged themselves from the 
white crowd and came toward them. 

"You will though," said Eros, a really nice 
boy, as the girls instantly agreed ; " you've only 
got to pick it." 

" Like this," said Psyche, lifting her marble 
arms to a willow branch. She reached out her 


hand to the children — it held a ripe pome- 

" I see," said Mabel. " You just " She laid 

her fingers to the willow branch and the firm 
softness of a big peach was within them. 

" Yes, just that," laughed Psyche, who was a 
darling, as any one could see. 

After this Hebe gathered a few silver baskets 
from a convenient alder, and the four picked 
fruit industriously. Meanwhile the elder 

statues were busy plucking golden goblets 
and jugs and dishes from the branches of 
ash-trees and young oaks and filling them 
with everything nice to eat and drink that 
any one could possibly want, and these were 
spread on the steps. It was a celestial picnic. 
Then everyone sat or lay down and the feast 
began. And oh ! the taste of the food served 
on those dishes, the sweet wonder of the drink 
that melted from those gold cups on the white 
lips of the company ! And the fruit — there is 
no fruit like it grown on earth, just as there 
is no laughter like the laughter of those lips, 
no songs like the songs that stirred the silence 
of that night of wonder. 

" Oh ! " cried Kathleen, and through her 
fingers the juice of her third peach fell like 
tears on the marble steps. "I do wish the boys 
were here ! " 

"I do wonder what they're doing," said 

" At this moment," said Hermes, who had just 
made a wide ring of flight, as a pigeon does, 



and come back into the circle — "at this moment 
they are wandering desolately near the home 
of the dinosaurus, having escaped from their 
home by a window, in search of you. They 
fear that you have perished, and they would 
weep if they did not know that tears do not 
become a man, however youthful." 

Kathleen stood up and brushed the crumbs 
of ambrosia from her marble lap. 

" Thank you all very much," she said. " It was 
very kind of you to have us, and we've enjoyed 
ourselves very much, but I think we ought to 
go now, please." 

"If it is anxiety about your brothers," said 
Phoebus obligingly, "it is the easiest thing in 
the world for them to join you. Lend me 
your ring a moment." 

He took it from Kathleen's half-reluctant 
hand, dipped it in the reflection of one of the 
seven moons, and gave it back. She clutched it. 
"Now," said the Sun-god, "wish for them that 
which Mabel wished for herself. Say " 

" I know," Kathleen interrupted. " I wish that 
the boys may be statues of living marble like 
Mabel and me till dawn, and afterwards be like 
they are now/' 

"If you hadn't interrupted," said Phcebus— 
"but there, we can't expect old heads on 
shoulders of young marble. You should have 
wished them here — and — but no matter. 
Hermes, old chap, cut across and fetch them, 
and explain things as you come." 

He dipped the ring again in one of the 



reflected moons before he gave it back to 

" There," he said, " now it's washed clean 
ready for the next magic." 

" It is not our custom to question guests," said 
Hera the queen, turning her great eyes on the 
children ; " but that ring excites, I am sure, the 
interest of us all." 

" It is the ring," said Phoebus. 

" That, of course," said Hera ; " but if it were 
not inhospitable to ask questions I should ask, 
How came it into the hands of these earth- 
children ? " 

"That," said Phoebus, "is a long tale. After 
the feast the story, and after the story the song." 

Hermes seemed to have " explained every- 
thing " quite fully ; for when Gerald and Jimmy 
in marble whiteness arrived, each clinging to 
one of the god's winged feet, and so borne 
through the air, they were certainly quite at 
ease. They made their best bows to the god- 
desses and took their places as unembarrassed 
as though they had had Olympian suppers every 
night of their lives. Hebe had woven wreaths 
of roses ready for them, and as Kathleen 
watched them eating and drinking, perfectly 
at home in their marble, she was very glad 
that amid the welling springs of immortal 
peach- juice she had not forgotten her brothers. 

"And now," said Hera, when the boys had 
been supplied with everything they could 
possibly desire, and more than they could eat — 
"now for the story." 


" Yes," said Mabel intensely ; and Kathleen 
said, " Oh yes ; now for the story. How 
splendid ! " 

" The story," said Phoebus unexpectedly, " will 
be told by our guests." 

" Oh no ! " said Kathleen, shrinking. 

" The lads, maybe, are bolder," said Zeus the 
king, taking off his rose- wreath, which was 
a little tight, and rubbing his compressed 

" I really can't," said Gerald ; " besides, I don't 
know any stories." 

" Nor yet me," said Jimmy. 

" It's the story of how we got the ring that 
they want," said Mabel in a hurry. " I'll tell it 
if you like. Once upon a time there was a little 
girl called Mabel," she added yet more hastily, 
and went on with the tale — all the tale of the 
enchanted castle, or almost all, that you have 
read in these pages. The marble Olympians 
listened enchanted — almost as enchanted as the 
castle itself, and the soft moonlit moments fell 
past like pearls dropping into a deep pool. 

" And so," Mabel ended abruptly, " Kathleen 
wished for the boys and the Lord Hermes 
fetched them and here we all are." 

A burst of interested comment and question 
blossomed out round the end of the story, 
suddenly broken off short by Mabel. 

" But," said she, brushing it aside, as it grew 
thinner, " now we want you to tell us.*' 

"To tell you ? 

■" How you come to be alive, and how you 


know about the ring — and everything you do 

"Everything I know?" Phoebus laughed — it 
was to him that she had spoken — and not his 
lips only but all the white lips curled in laughter. 
" The span of your life, my earth^child, would 
not contain the words I should speak, to tell you 
all I know." 

" Well, about the ring anyhow, and how you 
come alive," said Gerald; "you see, it's very 
puzzling to us." 

" Tell them, Phoebus," said the dearest lady in 
the world ; " don't tease the children." 

So Phoebus, leaning back against a heap of 
leopard-skins that Dionysus had lavishly 
plucked from a spruce fir, told. 

" All statues," he said, " can come alive when 
the moon shines, if they so choose. But statues 
that are placed in ugly cities do not choose. 
Why should they weary themselves with the 
contemplation of the hideous ? " 

" Quite so," said Gerald politely, to fill the 

"In your beautiful temples," the Sun-god 
went on, " the images of your priests and of 
your warriors who lie cross-legged on their 
tombs come alive and walk in their marble 
about their temples, and through the woods 
and fields. But only on one night in all the 
year can any see them. You have beheld us 
because you held the ring, and are of one 
brotherhood with us in your marble, but on 
that one night all may behold us." 


" And when is that ? " Gerald asked, again 
polite, in a pause. 

" At the festival of the harvest," said Phoebus. 
" On that night as the moon rises it strikes one 
beam of perfect light on to the altar in certain 
temples. One of these temples is in Hellas, 
buried under the fall of a mountain which Zeus, 
being angry, hurled down upon it. One is in 
this land ; it is in this great garden." 

" Then," said Gerald, much interested, " if we 
were to come up to that temple on that night, 
we could see you, even without being statues or 
having the ring?" 

" Even so," said Phoebus. " More, any ques- 
tion asked by a mortal we are on that night 
bound to answer." 

" And the night is — when ? " 

"Ah!" said Phoebus, and laughed. "Wouldn't 
you like to know ! " 

Then the great marble King of the Gods 
yawned, stroked his long beard, and said: 
"Enough of stories, Phoebus. Tune your lyre." 

" But the ring," said Mabel in a whisper, as 
the Sun-god tuned the white strings of a sort 
of marble harp that lay at his feet—" about how 
you know all about the ring ? " 

" Presently," the Sun-god whispered back. 
" Zeus must be obeyed ; but ask me again before 
dawn, and I will tell you all I know of it." Mabel 
drew back, and leaned against the comfortable 
knees of one Demeter — Kathleen and Psyche sat 
holding hands. Gerald and Jimmy lay at full 
length, chins on elbows, gazing at the Sun-god ; 


and even as he held the lyre, before ever his 
fingers began to sweep the strings, the spirit of 
music hung in the air, enchanting, enslaving, 
silencing all thought but the thought of itself, 
all desire but the desire to listen to it. 

Then Phoebus struck the strings and softly 
plucked melody from them, and all the beautiful 
dreams of all the world came fluttering close 
with wings like doves' wings ; and all the lovely 
thoughts that sometimes hover near, but not so 
near that you can catch them, now came home 
as to their nests in the hearts of those who 
listened. And those who listened forgot time and 
space, and how to be sad, and how to be 
naughty, and it seemed that the whole world 
lay like a magic apple in the hand of each 
listener, and that the whole world was good 
and beautiful. 

And then, suddenly, the spell was shattered. 
Phoebus struck a broken chord, followed by 
an instant of silence ; then he sprang up, cry- 
ing, " The dawn ! the dawn ! To your pedestals, 
gods ! " 

In an instant the whole crowd of beautiful 
marble people had leaped to its feet, had rushed 
through the belt of wood that cracked and 
rustled as they went, and the children heard 
them splash in the water beyond. They heard, 
too, the gurgling breathing of a great beast, and 
knew that the dinosaurus, too, was returning to 
his own place. 

Only Hermes had time, since one flies more 
swiftly than one swims, to hover above them 


for one moment, and to whisper with a mis- 
chievous laugh : — 

" In fourteen days from now, at the Temple of 
Strange Stones." 

"What's the secret of the ring?" gasped 

"The ring is the heart of the magic," said 
Hermes. "Ask at the moonrise on the fourteenth 
day, and you shall know all." 

With that he waved the snowy caduceus and 
rose in the air supported by his winged feet. 
And as he went the seven reflected moons 
died out and a chill wind began to blow, a 
grey light grew and grew, the birds stirred and 
twittered, and the marble slipped away from 
the children like a skin that shrivels in fire, and 
they were statues no more, but flesh and blood 
children as they used to be, standing knee-deep 
in brambles and long coarse grass. There was 
no smooth lawn, no marble steps, no seven- 
mooned fish-pond. The dew lay thick on the 
grass and the brambles, and it was very cold. 

" We ought to have gone with them," said 
Mabel with chattering teeth. " We can't swim 
now we're not marble. And I suppose this is 
the island ? " 

It was — and they couldn't swim. 

They knew it. One always knows those sort 
of things somehow without trying. For instance, 
you know perfectly that you can't fly. There 
are some things that there is no mistake about. 

The dawn grew brighter and the outlook more 
black every moment. 


" There isn't a boat, I suppose ? " Jimmy asked. 

" No," said Mabel, " not on this side of the 
lake ; there's one in the boat-house, of course — 
if you could swim there." 

"You know I can't," said Jimmy. 

" Can't any one think of anything ? " Gerald 
asked, shivering. 

" When they find we've disappeared they'll drag 
all the water for miles round," said Jimmy hope- 
fully, " in case we've fallen in and sunk to the 
bottom. When they come to drag this we can 
yell and be rescued." 

" Yes, dear, that will be nice," was Gerald's 
bitter comment. 

" Don't be so disagreeable," said Mabel with a 
tone so strangely cheerful that the rest stared at 
her in amazement. 

" The ring," she said. " Of course we've only 
got to wish ourselves home with it. Phoebus 
washed it in the moon ready for the next wish." 

" You didn't tell as about that," said Gerald in 
accents of perfect good temper. " Never mind. 
Where is the ring ? " 

" You had it," Mabel reminded Kathleen. 

"I know I had," said that child in stricken 
tones, " but I gave it to Psyche to look at — 
and — and she's got it on her finger ! " 

Every one tried not to be angry with 
Kathleen. All partly succeeded. 

" If we ever get off this beastly island," said 
Gerald, " I suppose you can find Psyche's statue 
and get it off again ? " 

" No I can't," Mabel moaned. " I don't know 


where the statue is. I've never seen it. It may 
be in Hellas, wherever that is — or anywhere, 
for anything / know."' 

No one had anything kind to say, and it is 
pleasant to record that nobody said anything. 
And now it was grey daylight, and the sky to 
the north was flushing in pale pink and 

The boys stood moodily, hands in pockets. 
Mabel and Kathleen seemed to find it impossible 
not to cling together, and all about their legs 
the long grass was icy with dew. 

A faint sniff and a caught breath broke the 

" Now, look here," said Gerald briskly, " I 
won't have it. Do you hear? Snivelling's no 
good at all. No, I'm not a pig. It's for your 
own good. Let's make a tour of the island. 
Perhaps there's a boat hidden somewhere 
among the overhanging boughs." 

" How could there be ? " Mabel asked. 

" Some one might have left it there, I sup- 
pose," said Gerald. 

" But how would they have got off the 
island ? " 

"In another boat, of course," said Gerald; 
" come on." 

Downheartedly, and quite sure that there 
wasn't and couldn't be any boat, the four 
children started to explore the island. How 
often each one of them had dreamed of islands, 
how often wished to be stranded on one! Well, 
now they were. Reality is sometimes quite 


different from dreams, arid not half so nice. It 
was worst of all for Mabel, whose shoes and 
stockings were far away on the mainland. The 
coarse grass and brambles were very cruel to 
bare legs and feet. 

They stumbled through the wood to the edge 
of the water, but it was impossible to keep close 
to the edge of the island, the branches grew 
too thickly. There was a narrow, grassy path 
that wound in and out among the trees, and 
this they followed, dejected and mournful. 
Every moment made it less possible for them to 
hope to get back to the school-house unnoticed. 
And if they were missed and beds found in their 
present unslept-in state— well, there would be a 
row of some sort, and, as Gerald said, " Farewell 
to liberty ! " 

" Of course we can get off all right," said 
Gerald. " Just all shout when we see a gardener 
or a keeper on the mainland. But if we do, 
concealment is at an end and all is absolutely 
up ! 

" Yes," said everyone gloomily. 

"Come, buck up!" said Gerald, the spirit of the 
born general beginning to reawaken in him. 
" We shall get out of this scrape all right, as 
we've got out of others; you know we shall. 
See, the sun's coming out. You feel all right 
and jolly now, don't you ? " 

" Yes, oh yes ! " said everyone, in tones of 
unmixed misery. 

The sun was now risen, and through a deep 
cleft in the hills it sent a strong shaft of light 


straight at the island. The yellow light, almost 
level, struck through the stems of the trees and 
dazzled the children's eyes. This, with the fact 
that he was not looking where he was going, 
as Jimmy did not fail to point out later, was 
enough to account for what now happened to 
Gerald, who was leading the melancholy little 
procession. He stumbled, clutched at a tree- 
trunk, missed his clutch, and disappeared, with 
a yell and a clatter ; and Mabel, who came next, 
only pulled herself up just in time not to fall 
down a steep flight of moss-grown steps that 
seemed to open suddenly in the ground at her 

"Oh, Gerald!" she called down the steps; '-are 
you hurt ? " 

"No," said Gerald, out of sight and crossly, 
for he was hurt, rather severely ; " it's steps, and 
there's a passage." 

" There always is," said Jimmy. 

" I knew there was a passage," said Mabel ; 
" it goes under the water and comes out at the 
Temple of Flora. Even the gardeners know 
that, but they won't go down, for fear of 

" Then we can get out that way — I do think 
you might have said so," Gerald's voice came up 
to say. 

" I didn't think of it," said Mabel. " At least 

And I suppose it goes past the place where 

the Ugly-Wugly found its good hotel." 

"I'm not going," said Kathleen positively, "not 
in the dark, I'm not. So I tell you ! " 


" Very well, baby," said Gerald sternly, and 
his head appeared from below very suddenly 
through interlacing brambles. " No one asked 
you to go in the dark. We'll leave you here if 
you like, and return and rescue you with a boat. 
Jimmy, the bicycle lamp ! " He reached up a 
hand for it. 

Jimmy produced from his bosom, the place 
where lamps are always kept in fairy stories — 
see Aladdin and others — a bicycle lamp. 

" We brought it," he explained, " so as not to 
break our shins over bits of long Mabel among 
the rhododendrons." 

"Now," said Gerald very firmly, striking a 
match and opening the thick, rounded glass 
front of the bicycle lamp, " I don't know what 
the rest of you are going to do, but I'm going 
down these steps and along this passage. If we 
find the good hotel — well, a good hotel never 
hurt any one yet." 

"It's no good, you know," said Jimmy weakly ; 
"you know jolly well you can't get out of that 
Temple of Flora door, even if you get to it." 

" I dont know," said Gerald, still brisk and 
commander-like; "there's a secret spring inside 
that door most likely. We hadn't a lamp last 
time to look for it, remember." 

" If there's one thing I do hate it's under- 
groundness," said Mabel. 

" You re not a coward," said Gerald, with what 
is known as diplomacy. " You re brave, Mabel. 
Don't I know it ! You hold Jimmy's hand and 
I'll hold Cathy's. Now then." 


" I won't have my hand held," said Jimmy, of 
course. " I'm not a kid." 

"Well, Cathy will. Poor little Cathy! Nice 
brother Jerry'll hold poor Cathy's hand." 

Geralds bitter sarcasm missed fire here, for 
Cathy gratefully caught the hand he held out in 
mockery. She was too miserable to read his 
mood, as she mostly did. " Oh, thank you, Jerry 
dear," she said gratefully; "you<a?-e a dear, and I 
ivill try not to be frightened." And for quite a 
minute Gerald shamedly felt that he had not 
been quite, quite kind. 

So now, leaving the growing goldness of the 
sunrise, the four went down the stone steps 
that led to the underground and underwater 
passage, and everything seemed to grow dark 
and then to grow into a poor pretence of light 
again, as the splendour of dawn gave place to 
the small dogged lighting of the bicycle lamp. 
The steps did indeed lead to a passage, the 
beginnings of it choked with the drifted dead 
leaves of many old autumns. But presently the 
passage took a turn, there were more steps, 
down, down, and then the passage was empty 
and straight — lined above and below and on 
each side with slabs of marble, very clear and 
clean. Gerald held Cathy's hand with more of 
kindness and less of exasperation than he had 
supposed possible. 

And Cathy, on her part, was surprised to find 
it possible to be so much less frightened than 
she expected. 

The flame of the bull'seye threw ahead a soft 


circle of misty light — the children followed it 
silently. Till, silently and suddenly, the light 
of the bnll's-eye behaved as the flame of a candle 
does when you take it out into the sunlight to 
light a bonfire, or explode a train of gunpowder, 
or what not. Because now, with feelings mixed 
indeed, of wonder, and interest, and awe, but no 
fear, the children found themselves in a great 
hall, whose arched roof was held up by two 
rows of round pillars, and whose every corner 
was filled with a soft, searching, lovely light, 
filling every cranny, as water fills the rocky 
secrecies of hidden sea-caves. 

" How beautiful ! " Kathleen whispered, 
breathing hard into the tickled ear of her 
brother, and Mabel caught the hand of Jimmy 
and whispered, " I must hold your hand — I 
must hold on to something silly, or I shan't 
believe it's real." 

For this hall in which the children found them- 
selves was the most beautiful place in the world. 
I won't describe it, because it does not look the 
same to any two people, and you wouldn't 
understand me if I tried to tell you how it 
looked to any one of these four. But to each 
it seemed the most perfect thing possible. I 
will only say that all round it were great 
arches. Kathleen saw them as Moorish, Mabel 
as Tudor, Gerald as Norman, and Jimmy as 
Churchwarden Gothic. (If you don't know 
what these are, ask your uncle who collects 
brasses, and he will explain, or perhaps Mr. 
Millar will draw the different kinds of arches 


for you.) And through these arches one could 
see many things — oh ! but many things. 
Through one appeared an olive garden, and 
in it two lovers who held each other's hands, 
under an Italian moon ; through another a wild 
sea, and a ship to whom the wild, racing sea 
was slave. A third showed a king on his 
throne, his courtiers obsequious about him ; 
and yet a fourth showed a really good hotel, 
with the respectable Ugly-Wugly sunning 
himself on the front doorsteps. There was a 
mother, bending over a wooden cradle. There 
was an artist gazing entranced on the picture 
his wet brush seemed to have that moment 
completed, a general dying on a field where 
Victory had planted the standard he loved, and 
these things were not pictures, but the truest 
truths, alive, and, as any one could see, immortal. 

Many other pictures there were that these 
arches framed. And all showed some moment 
when life had sprung to fire and flower — the 
best that the soul of man could ask or man's 
destiny grant. And the really good hotel had 
its place here too, because there are some souls 
that ask no higher thing of life than " a really 
good hotel." 

" Oh, I am glad we came ; I am, I am ! " Kath- 
leen murmured, and held fast to her brother's 

They went slowly up the hall, the ineffectual 
bull'seye, held by Jimmy, very crooked indeed, 
showing almost as a shadow in this big, 
glorious light. 


And then, when the hall's end was almost 
reached, the children saw where the light came 
from. It glowed and spread itself from one 
place, and in that place stood the one statue 
that Mahel " did not know where to find " — the 
statue of Psyche. They went on, slowly, quite 
happy, quite bewildered. And when they came 
close to Psyche they saw that on her raised 
hand the ring showed dark. 

Gerald let go Kathleen's hand, put his foot 
on the pediment, his knee on the pedestal. He 
stood up, dark and human, beside the white girl 
with the butterfly wings. 

"I do hope you don't mind," he said, and 
drew the ring off very gently. Then, as he 
dropped to the ground, " Not here," he said. 
" I don't know why, but not here." 

And they all passed behind the white Psyche, 
and once more the bicycle lamp seemed suddenly 
to come to life again as Gerald held it in front 
of him, to be the pioneer in the dark passage 

that led from the Hall of , but they did not 

know, then, what it was the Hall of. 

Then, as the twisting passage shut in on them 
with a darkness that pressed close against the 
little light of the bicycle lamp, Kathleen said, 
" Give me the ring. I know exactly what to 

Gerald gave it with not extreme readiness. 

" I wish," said Kathleen slowly, " that no one 
at home may know that we've been out to-night, 
and I wish we were safe in our own beds, un- 
dressed, and in our nightgowns, and asleep." 


And the next thing any of them knew, it was 
good, strong, ordinary daylight — not just sun- 
rise, but the kind of daylight you are used to 
being called in, and all were in their own beds. 
Kathleen had framed the wish most sensibly. 
The only mistake had been in saying " in our 
own beds," because, of course, Mabel's own bed 
was at Yalding Towers, and to this day Mabel's 
drab-haired aunt cannot understand how Mabel, 
who was staying the night with that child in the 
town she was so taken up with, hadn't come home 
at eleven, when the aunt locked up, and yet 
she was in her bed in the morning. For though 
not a clever woman, she was not stupid enough 
to be able to believe any one of the eleven fancy 
explanations which the distracted Mabel offered 
in the course of the morning. The first (which 
makes twelve) of these explanations was The 
Truth, and of course the aunt was far too 
clever to believe That ! 



It was show-clay at Yalding Castle, and it 
seemed good to the children to go and visit 
Mabel, and, as Gerald put it, to mingle un- 
suspected with the crowd ; to gloat over all 
the things which they knew and which the 
crowd didn't know about the castle and the 
sliding panels, the magic ring and the statues 
that came alive. Perhaps one of the pleasantest 
things about magic happenings is the feeling 
which they give you of knowing what other 
people not only don't know but wouldn't, so to 
speak, believe if they did. 

On the white road outside the gates of the 
castle was a dark spattering of breaks and 
wagonettes and dog-carts. Three or four waiting 
motor-cars puffed fatly where they stood, and 
bicycles sprawled in heaps along the grassy 
hollow by the red brick Avail. And the people 
who had been brought to the castle by the 
breaks and wagonettes, and dog-carts and bicycles 
and motors, as well as those who had walked 
there on their own unaided feet, were scat- 
tered about the grounds, or being shown over 
those parts of the castle which were, on this 
one day of the week, thrown open to visitors. 



There were more visitors than usual to-day 
because it had somehow been whispered about 
that Lord Yalding was down, and that the 
holland covers were to be taken off the state 
furniture, so that a rich American who wished 
to rent the castle, to live in, might see the 
place in all its glory. 

It certainly did look very splendid. The 
embroidered satin, gilded leather and tapestry 
of the chairs, which had been hidden by 
brown holland, gave to the rooms a pleasant 
air of being lived in. There were flowering 
plants and pots of roses here and there on 
tables or window-ledges. Mabel's aunt prided 
herself on her tasteful touch in the home, and 
had studied the arrangement of flowers in a 
series of articles in Home Drivel called " How to 
Make Home High-class on Ninepence a Week." 

The great crystal chandeliers, released from 
the bags that at ordinary times shrouded 
them, gleamed with grey and purple splendour. 
The brown linen sheets had been taken off the 
state beds, and the red ropes that usually kept 
the low crowd in its proper place had been 
rolled up and hidden away. 

; ' It's exactly as if we were calling on the 
family," said the grocer's daughter from Salis- 
bury to her friend who was in the millinery. 

" If the Yankee doesn't take it, what do you 
say to you and me setting up here when we get 
spliced ? " the draper's assistant asked his sweet- 
heart. And she said : ki Oh, Reggie, how can 
you ! you are too funny." 


All the afternoon the crowd in its smart 
holiday clothes, pink blouses, and light- 
coloured suits, flowery hats, and scarves beyond 
description passed through and through the 
dark hall, the magnificent drawing-rooms and 
boudoirs and picture-galleries. The chattering 
crowd was awed into something like quiet by 
the calm, stately bedchambers, where men had 
been born, and died ; where royal guests had 
lain in long-ago summer nights, with big bow- 
pots of elder-flowers set on the hearth to ward 
off fever and evil spells. The terrace, where in 
old days dames in ruffs had sniffed the sweet- 
brier and southernwood of the borders below, 
and ladies, bright with rouge and powder and 
brocade, had walked in the swing of their hooped 
skirts — the terrace now echoed to the sound of 
brown boots, and the tap-tap of high-heeled 
shoes at two and eleven three, and high 
laughter and chattering voices that said nothing 
that the children wanted to hear. These spoiled 
for them the quiet of the enchanted castle, 
and outraged the peace of the garden of 

" It isn't such a lark after all," Gerald ad- 
mitted, as from the window of the stone 
summer-house at the end of the terrace they 
watched the loud colours and heard the loud 
laughter. "I do hate to see all these people in 
our garden." 

" I said that to that nice bailiff -man this 
morning," said Mabel, setting herself on the 
stone floor, " and he said it wasn't much to let 


them come once a week. He said Lord Yalding 
ought to let them come when they liked — said 
he would if he lived there." 

" That's all he knows ! " said Jimmy. " Did he 
say anything else ? " 

" Lots," said Mabel. "I do like him ! I told 
him " 

" You didn't ! " 

" Yes. I told him lots about our adventures. 
The humble bailiff is a beautiful listener." 

" We shall be locked up for beautiful lunatics 
if you let your jaw get the better of you, my 
Mabel child." 

" Not us ! " said Mabel. " I told it— you know 
the way — every word true, and yet so that 
nobody believes any of it. When I'd quite 
done he said I'd got a real littery talent, and I 
promised to put his name on the beginning 
of the first book I write when I grow up." 

" You don't know his name," said Kathleen. 
" Let's do something with the ring." 

" Imposs ! " said Gerald. " I forgot to tell you, 
but I met Mademoiselle when I went back for 
my garters — and she's coming to meet us and 
walk back with us." 

" What did you say ? " 

" I said," said Gerald deliberately, " that it was 
very kind of her. And so it was. Us not 
wanting her doesn't make it not kind her 
coming " 

" It may be kind, but it's sickening too," said 
Mabel, " because now I suppose we shall have 
to stick here and wait for her ; and I promised 


we'd meet the bailiff -man. He's going to bring 
things in a basket and have a picnic-tea 
with us." 

" Where ? " 

" Beyond the dinosaurus. He said he'd tell 
me all about the anteddy-something animals — it 
means before Noah's Ark ; there are lots 
besides the dinosaurus — in return for me telling 
him my agreeable fictions. Yes, he called them 


" As soon as the gates shut. That's five." 

" We might take Mademoiselle along," sug- 
gested Gerald. 

" She'd be too proud to have tea with a bailiff, 
I expect ; you never know how grown-ups will 
take the simplest things." It was Kathleen who 
said this. 

" Well, I'll tell you what," said Gerald, lazily 
turning on the stone bench. " You all go along, 
and meet your bailiff. A picnic's a picnic. And 
I'll wait for Mademoiselle." 

Mabel remarked joyously that this was jolly 
decent of Gerald, to which he modestly replied : 
" Oh, rot ! " 

Jimmy added that Gerald rather liked sucking- 
up to people. 

" Little boys don't understand diplomacy," said 
Gerald calmly ; " sucking-up is simply silly. 
But it's better to be good than pretty and " 

" How do you know ? " Jimmy asked. 

"And," his brother went on, "you never know 
when a grown-up may come in useful. Besides, 


they like it. You must give them some little 
pleasures. Think how awful it must be to be 
old. My hat ! " 

"I hope / shan't be an old maid," said 

" I don't mean to be," said Mabel briskly. 
" I'd rather marry a travelling tinker." 

" It would be rather nice," Kathleen mused, 
" to marry the Gipsy King and go about in a 
caravan telling fortunes and hung round with 
baskets and brooms." 

" Oh, if I could choose," said Mabel, " of course 
I'd marry a brigand, and live in his mountain 
fastnesses, and be kind to his captives and help 
them to escape and " 

"You'll be a real treasure to your husband," 
said Gerald. 

" Yes," said Kathleen, " or a sailor would be 
nice. You'd watch for his ship coming home 
and set the lamp in the dormer window to light 
him home through the storm ; and when he was 
drowned at sea you'd be most frightfully sorry, 
and go every day to lay flowers on his daisied 

" Yes," Mabel hastened to say, " or a soldier, 
and then you'd go to the wars with short petti- 
coats and a cocked hat and a barrel round your 
neck like a St. Bernard dog. There's a picture 
of a soldier's wife on a song auntie's got. It's 
called ' The Veevandyear.' " 

" When I marry " Kathleen quickly said. 

" When / marry," said Gerald, " I'll marry a 
dumb girl, or else get the ring to make her so 


that she can't speak unless she's spoken to. Let's 
have a squint." 

He applied his eye to the stone lattice. 

" They're moving off," he said. " Those pink 
and purple hats are nodding off in the distant 
prospect ; and the funny little man with the 
beard like a goat is going a different way from 
every one else — the gardeners will have to head 
him off. I don't see Mademoiselle, though. 
The rest of you had better bunk. It doesn't do 
to run any risks with picnics. The deserted 
hero of our tale, alone and unsupported, urged 
on his brave followers to pursue the commissariat 
waggons, he himself remaining at the post of 
danger and difficulty, because he was born to 
stand on burning decks whence all but he had 
fled, and to lead forlorn hopes when despaired 
of by the human race ! " 

" I think I'll marry a dumb husband," said 
Mabel, " and there shan't be any heroes in my 
books when I write them, only a heroine. 
Come on, Cathy." 

Coming out of that cool, shadowy summer- 
house into the sunshine was like stepping into 
an oven, and the stone of the terrace was burn- 
ing to the children's feet. 

" I know now what a cat on hot bricks feels 
like," said Jimmy. 

The antediluvian animals are set in a beech- 
wood on a slope at least half a mile across the 
park from the castle. The grandfather of the 
present Lord Yalding had them set there in the 
middle of last century, in the great days of the 


late Prince Consort, the Exhibition of 1851, Sir 
Joseph Paxton, and the Crystal Palace. Their 
stone flanks, their wide, ungainly wings, their 
lozenged crocodile-like backs show grey through 
the trees a long way off. 

Most people think that noon is the hottest 
time of the day. They are wrong. A cloudless 
sky gets hotter and hotter all the afternoon, 
and reaches its very hottest at five. I am sure 
you must all have noticed this when you are 
going out to tea anywhere in your best clothes, 
especially if your clothes are starched and you 
happen to have a rather long and shadeless 

Kathleen, Mabel, and Jimmy got hotter and 
hotter, and went more and more slowly. They 
had almost reached that stage of resentment 
and discomfort when one " wishes one hadn't 
come " before they saw, below the edge of the 
beech-wood, the white waved handkerchief of 
the bailiff. 

That banner, eloquent of tea, shade, and being 
able to sit down, put new heart into them. They 
mended their pace, and a final desperate run 
landed them among the drifted coppery leaves 
and bare grey and green roots of the beech - 

"Oh, glory!" said Jimmy, throwing himself 
down. "How do you do?" 

The bailiff looked very nice, the girls thought. 
He was not wearing his velveteens, but a grey 
flannel suit that an Earl need not have scorned ; 
and his straw hat would have done no discredit 


to a Duke ; and a Prince could not have worn a 
prettier green tie. He welcomed the children 
warmly. And there were two baskets dumped 
heavy and promising among the beech-leaves. 

He was a man of tact. The hot, instructive 
tour of the stone antediluvians, which had 
loomed with ever-lessening charm before the 
children, was not even mentioned. 

" You must be desert-dry," he said, " and you'll 
be hungry, too, when you've done being thirsty. 
I put on the kettle as soon as I discerned the 
form of my fair romancer in the extreme 

The kettle introduced itself with puffings and 
babblings from the hollow between two grey 
roots where it sat on a spirit-lamp. 

" Take off your shoes and stockings, won't 
you ? " said the bailiff in matter-of-course tones, 
just as old ladies ask each other to take off their 
bonnets ; " there's a little baby canal just over 
the ridge." 

The joys of dipping one's feet in cool running 
water after a hot walk have yet to be described. 
I could write pages about them. There was a 
mill-stream when I was young with little fishes 
in it, and dropped leaves that spun round, and 
willows and alders that leaned over it and kept 
it cool, and — but this is not the story of my 

When they came back, on rested, damp, pink 
feet, tea was made and poured out, delicious tea, 
with as much milk as ever you wanted, out of a 
beer bottle with a screw top, and cakes, and 



gingerbread, and plums, and a big melon with a 
lump of ice in its heart — a tea for the gods ! 

This thought must have come to Jimmy, for 
he said suddenly, removing his face from inside 
a wide-bitten crescent of melon-rind : — 

" Your feast's as good as the feast of the 
Immortals, almost." 

" Explain your recondite allusion," said the 
grey-flanneled host ; and Jimmy, understand- 
ing him to say, " What do you mean ? " replied 
with the whole tale of that wonderful night 
when the statues came alive, and a banquet of 
unearthly splendour and deliciousness was 
plucked by marble hands from the trees of 
the lake island. 

When he had done the bailiff said : — 

"Did you get all this out of a book ? " 

" No," said Jimmy, " it happened." 

"You are an imaginative set of young 
dreamers, aren't you ? " the bailiff asked, hand- 
ing the plums to Kathleen, who smiled, friendly 
but embarrassed. Why couldn't Jimmy have 
held his tongue? 

" No, we're not," said that indiscreet one 
obstinately ; " everything I've told you did 
happen, and so did the things Mabel told 

The bailiff looked a little uncomfortable. "All 
right, old chap," lie said. And there was a short, 
uneasy silence. 

" Look here," said Jimmy, who seemed for 
once to have got the bit between his teeth, " do 
you believe me or not ? " 


" Don't be silly, Jimmy ! " Kathleen whispered. 

" Because, if you don't I'll make you believe." 

" Don't ! " said Mabel and Kathleen together. 

" Do you or don't you ? " Jimmy insisted, lying 
on his front with his chin on his hands, his 
elbows on a moss-cushion, and his bare legs 
kicking among the beech-leaves. 

" I think you tell adventures awfully well," 
said the bailiff cautiously. 

" Very well," said Jimmy, abruptly sitting up, 
"you don't believe me. Nonsense, Cathy ! he's a 
gentleman, even if he is a bailiff." 

" Thank you ! " said the bailiff with eyes that 

" You won't tell, will you ? " Jimmy urged. 

" Tell what ? " 

" Anything." 

" Certainly not. I am, as you say, the soul of 

" Then — Cathy, give me the ring." 

" Oh, no ! " said the girls together. 

Kathleen did not mean to give up the ring ; 
Mabel did not mean that she should ; Jimmy 
certainly used no force. Yet presently he held 
it in his hand. It was his hour. There are 
times like that for all of us, when what we say 
shall be done is done. 

" Now," said Jimmy, " this is the ring Mabel 
told you about. I say it is a wishing-ring. And 
if you will put it on your hand and wish, what- 
ever you wish will happen." 
" Must I wish out loud ? " 
" Yes— I think so." 



" Don't wish for anything silly," said Kathleen, 
making the best of the situation, " like its being 
fine on Tuesday or its being your favourite pud- 
ding for dinner to-morrow. Wish for something 
you really want." 

" I will," said the bailiff. " I'll wish for the 
only thing I really want. I wish my — I wish 
my friend were here." 

The three who knew the power of the ring 
looked round to see the bailiff's friend appear ; 
a surprised man that friend would be, they 
thought, and perhaps a frightened one. They 
had all risen, and stood ready to soothe and 
reassure the new-comer. But no startled gentle- 
man appeared in the wood, only, coming 
quietly through the dappled sun and shadow 
under the beech-trees, Mademoiselle and Gerald, 
Mademoiselle in a white gown, looking quite 
nice and like a picture, Gerald hot and polite. 

" Good-afternoon," said that dauntless leader 
of forlorn hopes. " I persuaded Mademoi- 
selle " 

That sentence was never finished, for the 
bailiff and the French governess were looking 
at each other with the eyes of tired travellers 
who find, quite without expecting it, the desired 
end of a very long journey. And the children 
saw that even if they spoke it would not make 
any difference. 

" You!" said the bailiff. 

" Mais . . . c'est done vous," said Mademoi- 
selle, in a funny choky voice. 

And they stood still and looked at each other, 



" like stuck pigs," as Jimmy said later, for quite 
a long time. 

" Is she your friend ? " Jimmy asked. 

" Yes — oh yes," said the bailiff. " You are my 
friend, are you not ? " 

" But yes," Mademoiselle said softly. " I am 
your friend." 

" There ! you see," said Jimmy, " the ring does 
do what I said." 

"We won't quarrel about that," said the 
bailiff. " You can say it's the ring. For 
me — it's a coincidence— the happiest, the 
dearest " 

" Then you ? " said the French governess. 

" Of course," said the bailiff. " Jimmy, give 
your brother some tea. Mademoiselle, come 
and walk in the woods : there are a thousand 
things to say." 

" Eat then, my Gerald," said Mademoiselle, 
now grown young, and astonishingly like a 
fairy princess. " I return all at the hour, and 
we re-enter together. It is that we must speak 
each other. It is long time that we have not 
seen us, me and Lord Yalding ! " 

" So he was Lord Yalding all the time," said 
Jimmy, breaking a stupefied silence as the white 
gown and the grey flannels disappeared among 
the beech-trunks. " Landscape painter sort of 
dodge — silly, I call it. And fancy her being a 
friend of his, and his wishing she was here ! 
Different from us, eh ? Good old ring ! " 

" His friend ! " said Mabel with strong scorn : 
" don't you see she's his lover ? Don't you see 


she's the lady that was bricked up in the con- 
vent, because he was so poor, and he couldn't 
find her. And now the ring's made them live 
happy ever after. I am glad ! Aren't you, 

" Rather ! " said Kathleen ; " it's as good as 
marrying a sailor or a bandit." 

"It's the ring did it," said Jimmy. "If the 
American takes the house he'll pay lots of rent, 
and they can live on that." 

" I wonder if they'll be married to-morrow ! " 
said Mabel. 

" Wouldn't it be fun if we were bridesmaids," 
said Cathy. 

" May I trouble you for the melon," said 
Gerald. " Thanks ! Why didn't we know he 
was Lord Yalding ? Apes and moles that we 
were ! " 

"I've known since last night," said Mabel 
calmly ; " only I promised not to tell. I can 
keep a secret, can't I V " 

"Too jolly well," said Kathleen, a little 

" He was disguised as a bailiff," said Jimmy ; 
" that's why we didn't know." 

"Disguised as a fiddle-stick-end," said Gerald. 
" Ha, ha ! I see something old Sherlock Holmes 
never saw, nor that idiot Watson, either. If 
you want a really impenetrable disguise, you 
ought to disguise yourself as what you really 
are. I'll remember that." 

" It's like Mabel, telling things so that you 
can't believe them," said Cathy. 



" I think Mademoiselle's jolly lucky," said 

" She's not so bad. He might have done 
worse," said Gerald. "Plums, please!" 


There was quite plainly magic at work. 
Mademoiselle next morning was a changed 
governess. Her cheeks were pink, her lips 
were red, her eyes were larger and brighter, 
and she had done her hair in an entirely new 
way, rather frivolous and very becoming. 

" Mamselle's coming out ! " Eliza remarked. 

Immediately after breakfast Lord Yalding 
called with a wagonette that wore a smart 
blue cloth coat, and was drawn by two horses 
whose coats were brown and shining and fitted 
them even better than the blue cloth coat fitted 
the wagonette, and the whole party drove in 
state and splendour to Yalding Towers. 

Arrived there, the children clamoured for per- 
mission to explore the castle thoroughly, a thing 
that had never yet been possible. Lord Yalding, 
a little absent in manner, but yet quite cordial, 
consented. Mabel showed the others all the 
secret doors and unlikely passages and stairs 
that she had discovered. It was a glorious 
morning. Lord Yalding and Mademoiselle went 
through the house, it is true, but in a rather 
half-hearted way. Quite soon they were tired, 
and went out through the French windows of 
the drawing-room and through the rose garden, 
to sit on the curved stone seat in the middle 
of the maze, where once, at the beginning of 


things, Gerald, Kathleen, and Jimmy had found 
the sleeping Princess who wore pink silk and 

The children felt that their going left to the 
castle a more spacious freedom, and explored 
with more than Arctic enthusiasm. It was as 
they emerged from the little rickety secret 
staircase that led from the powdering-room of 
the state suite to the gallery of the hall that 
they came suddenly face to face with the odd 
little man who had a beard like a goat and had 
taken the wrong turning yesterday. 

" This part of the castle is private," said Mabel, 
with great presence of mind, and shut the door 
behind her. 

" I am aware of it," said the goat-faced 
stranger, " but I have the permission of the 
Earl of Yalding to examine the house at my 

" Oh ! " said Mabel. " I beg your pardon. We 
all do. We didn't know." 

" You are relatives of his lordship, I should 
surmise ? " asked the goat-faced. 

" Not exactly," said Gerald. " Friends." 

The gentleman was thin and very neatly 
dressed ; he had small, merry eyes and a face 
that was brown and dry-looking. 

" You are playing some game, I should sup- 
pose ? " 

" No, sir," said Gerald, " only exploring." 

" May a stranger propose himself as a member 
of your Exploring Expedition ? " asked the 
gentleman, smiling a tight but kind smile. 


The children looked at each other. 

"You see," said Gerald, "it's rather difficult 
to explain — but — you see what I mean, don't 

" He means," said Jimmy, " that we can't take 
you into an exploring party without we know 
what you want to go for." 

" Are you a photographer ? " asked Mabel, " or 
is it some newspaper's sent you to write about 
the Towers ? " 

" I understand your position," said the gentle- 
man. " I am not a photographer, nor am I 
engaged by any journal. I am a man of in- 
dependent means, travelling in this country 
with the intention of renting a residence. My 
name is Jefferson D. Conway." 

" Oh ! " said Mabel ; " then you're the American 

" I do not like the description, young lady," 
said Mr. Jefferson D. Conway. " I am an 
American citizen, and I am not without means. 
This is a fine property — a very fine property. If 
it were for sale " 

" It isn't, it can't be," Mabel hastened to 
explain. " The lawyers have put it in a tale, so 
Lord Yalding can't sell it. But you could take 
it to live in, and pay Lord Yalding a good 
millionairish rent, and then he could marry the 
French governess " 

" Shish !" said Kathleen and Mr. Jefferson D, 
Conway together, and he added : — 

" Lead the way, please ; and I should suggest 
that the exploration be complete and exhaustive." 


Thus encouraged, Mabel led the millionaire 
through all the castle. He seemed pleased, yet 
disappointed too. 

" It is a fine mansion," he said at last when 
they had come back to the point from which 
they had started; "but I should suppose, in a 
house this size, there would mostly be a secret 
stairway, or a priests' hiding place, or a ghost ? " 

" There are," said Mabel briefly, " but I thought 
Americans didn't believe in anything but 
machinery and newspapers." She touched the 
spring of the panel behind her, and displayed 
the little tottery staircase to the American. 
The sight of it worked a wonderful transforma- 
tion in him. He became eager, alert, very keen. 

" Say! " he cried, over and over again, standing 
in the door that led from the powdering-room 
to the state bed-chamber. " But this is great- 
great ! " 

The hopes of every one ran high. It seemed 
almost certain that the castle would be let for 
a millionairish rent and Lord Yalding be made 
affluent to the point of marriage. 

" If there were a ghost located in this 
ancestral pile, I'd close with the Earl of Yalding 
to-day, now, on the nail," Mr. Jefferson D. 
Conway went on. 

" If you were to stay till to-morrow, and sleep 
in this room, I expect you'd see the ghost," said 

" There is a ghost located here then ? " he said 

" They say," Mabel answered, " that old Sir 



Rupert, who lost his head in Henry the Eighth's 
time, walks of a night here, with his head under 
his arm. But we've not seen that. What we 
have seen is the lady in a pink dress with 
diamonds in her hair. She carries a lighted 
taper," Mabel hastily added. The others, now 
saddenly aware of Mabel's plan, hastened to 
assure the American in accents of earnest 
truth that they had all seen the lady with the 
pink gown. 

He looked at them with half-closed eyes that 

" Well," he said, " I calculate to ask the Earl 
of Yalding to permit me to pass a night in his 
ancestral best bed-chamber. And if I hear so 
much as a phantom footstep, or hear so much 
as a ghostly sigh, I'll take the place." 

" I am glad ! " said Cathy. 

"You appear to be very certain of your 
ghost," said the American, still fixing them with 
little eyes that shone. " Let me tell you, young 
gentlemen, that I carry a gun, and when I see a 
ghost, I shoot." 

He pulled a pistol out of his hip-pocket, and 
looked at it lovingly. 

" And I am a fair average shot," he went on, 
walking across the shiny floor of the state bed- 
chamber to the open window. " See that big- 
red rose, like a tea-saucer ? " 

They saw. 

The next moment a loud report broke the 
stillness, and the red petals of the shattered rose 
strewed balustrade and terrace. 


The American looked from one child to 
another. Every face was perfectly white. 

" Jefferson D. Conway made his little pile by 
strict attention to business, and keeping his eyes 
skinned," he added. "Thank you for all your 


* * * * * 

"Suppose you'd done it, and he'd shot you!" 
said Jimmy cheerfully. " That would have been 
an adventure, wouldn't it ? " 

" I'm going to do it still," said Mabel, pale and 
defiant. " Let's find Lord Yalding and get the 
ring back." 

Lord Yalding had had an interview with 
Mabel's aunt, and lunch for six was laid in the 
great dark hall, among the armour and the oak 
furniture — a beautiful lunch served on silver 
dishes. Mademoiselle, becoming every moment 
younger and more like a Princess, was moved to 
tears when Gerald rose, lemonade-glass in hand, 
and proposed the health of " Lord and Lady 

When Lord Yalding had returned thanks in 
a speech full of agreeable jokes the moment 
seemed to Gerald propitious, and he said : — 

" The ring, you know — you don't believe in it, 
but we do. May we have it back ? " 

And got it. 

Then, after a hasty council, held in the 
panelled jewel-room, Mabel said : " This is a 
wishing-ring, and I wish all the American's 
weapons of all sorts were here." 

Instantly the room was full — six feet up the 


wall — of a tangle and mass of weapons, swords, 
spears, arrows, tomahawks, fowling pieces, 
blunderbusses, pistols, revolvers, scimitars, 
kreeses — every kind of weapon you can think 
of — and the four children wedged in among all 
these weapons of death hardly dared to breathe. 

" He collects arms, I expect," said Gerald, "and 
the arrows are poisoned, I shouldn't wonder. 
Wish them back where they came from, 
Mabel, for goodness' sake, and try again." 

Mabel wished the weapons away, and at once 
the four children stood safe in a bare panelled 
room. But — 

"No," Mabel said, "I can't stand it. We'll 
work the ghost another way. I wish the 
American may think he sees a ghost when lie 
goes to bed. Sir Rupert with his head under his 
arm will do." 

" Is it to-night he sleeps there ? " 

"I don't know. I wish he may see Sir Rupert 
every night — that'll make it all serene." 

"It's rather dull," said Gerald; "we shan't 
know whether he's seen Sir Rupert or not." 

" We shall know in the morning, when he 
takes the house." 

This being settled, Mabel's aunt was found to 
be desirous of Mabel's company, so the others 
went home. 

It was when they were at supper that Lord 
Yalding suddenly appeared, and said :— 

"Mr. Jefferson Conway wants you boys to 
spend the night with him in the state chamber. 
I've had beds put up. You don't mind, do you ? 


He seems to think you've got some idea of 
playing ghost-tricks on him." 

It was difficult to refuse, so difficult that it 
proved impossible. 

Ten o'clock found the boys each in a narrow 
white bed that looked quite absurdly small in 
that high, dark chamber, and in face of that 
tall gaunt four-poster hung with tapestry and 
ornamented with funereal-looking plumes. 

" I hope to goodness there isn't a real ghost," 
Jimmy whispered. 

" Not likely," Gerald whispered back. 

" But I don't want to see Sir Rupert's ghost 
with its head under its arm," Jimmy insisted. 

" You won't. The most you'll see'll be the 
millionaire seeing it. Mabel said he was to see 
it, not us. Very likely you'll sleep all night and 
not see anything. Shut your eyes and count up 
to a million and don't be a goat ! " 

But he was reckoning without Mabel and the 
ring. As soon as Mabel had learned from her 
drab-haired aunt that this was indeed the night 
when Mr. Jefferson D. Conway would sleep at 
the castle she had hastened to add a wish, " that 
Sir Rupert and his head may appear to-night in 
the state bedroom." 

Jimmy shut his eyes and began to count a 
million. Before he had counted it he fell asleep. 
So did his brother. 

They were awakened by the loud echoing 
bang of a pistol shot. Each thought of the shot 
that had been fired that morning, and opened 
eyes that expected to see a sunshiny terrace 


and red-rose petals strewn upon warm white 

Instead, there was the dark, lofty state 
chamber, lighted but little by six tall candles ; 
there was the American in shirt and trousers, 
a smoking pistol in his hand ; and there, ad- 
vancing from the door of the powdering-room, 
a figure in doublet and hose, a ruff round its 
neck — and no head ! The head, sure enough, 
was there ; but it was under the right arm, held 
close in the slashed-velvet sleeve of the doublet. 
The face looking from under the arm wore a 
pleasant smile. Both boys, I am sorry to say, 
screamed. The American fired again. The 
bullet passed through Sir Rupert, who advanced 
without appearing to notice it. 

Then, suddenly, the lights went out. The 
next thing the boys knew it was morning. A 
grey daylight shone blankly through the tall 
windows — and wild rain was beating upon the 
glass, and the American was gone. 

" Where are we ? " said Jimmy, sitting up with 
tangled hair and looking round him. " Oh, I 
remember. Ugh ! it was horrid. I'm about fed 
up with that ring, so I don't mind telling you." 

" Nonsense ! " said Gerald. " I enjoyed it. I 
wasn't a bit frightened, were you ? " 

" No," said Jimmy, " of course I wasn't." 

"We've done the trick," said Gerald later 
when they learned that the American had 
breakfasted early with Lord Yalding and taken 
the first train to London ; " he's gone to get rid 



of his other house, and take this one. The old 
ring's beginning to do really useful things." 

" Perhaps you'll believe in the ring now," said 
Jimmy to Lord Y aiding, whom he met later on 
in the picture-gallery ; " it's all our doing that 
Mr. Jefferson saw the ghost. He told us he'd 
take the house if he saw a ghost, so of course 
we took care he did see one." 

" Oh, you did, did you ? " said Lord Yalding in 
rather an odd voice. " I'm very much obliged, 
I'm sure." 

" Don't mention it," said Jimmy kindly. " I 
thought you'd be pleased and him too." 

" Perhaps you'll be interested to learn," said 
Lord Yalding, putting his hands in his pockets 
and staring down at Jimmy, "that Mr. Jefferson 
D. Conway was so pleased with your ghost that 
he got me out of bed at six o'clock this morning 
to talk about it." 

" Oh, ripping ! " said Jimmy. " What did he 

" He said, as far as I can remember," said 
Lord Yalding, still in the same strange voice — 
"he said: 'My lord, your ancestral pile is Al. 
It is, in fact, The Limit. Its luxury is palatial, 
its grounds are nothing short of Edenesque. No 
expense has been spared, I should surmise. Your 
ancestors were whole-hoggers. They have done 
the thing as it should be done — every detail 
attended to. I like your tapestry, and I like 
your oak, and I like your secret stairs. But I 
think your ancestors should have left well 


enough alone, and stopped at that.' So I said 
they had, as far as I knew, and he shook his 
head and said : — 

" ' No, sir. Your ancestors take the air of 
a night with their heads under their arms. A 
ghost that sighed or glided or rustled I could 
have stood, and thanked you for it, and con- 
sidered it in the rent. But a ghost that bullets 
go through while it stands grinning with a bare 
neck and its head loose under its own arm and 
little boys screaming and fainting in their beds — 
no ! What I say is, If this is a British 
hereditary high-toned family ghost, excuse Me ! ' 
And he went off by the early train." 

" I say," the stricken Jimmy remarked, ' I am 
sorry, and I don't think we did faint, really I 
don't — but we thought it would be just what 
you wanted. And perhaps some one else will 
take the house." 

" I don't know any one else rich enough," said 
Lord Yalding. " Mr. Conway came the day 
before lie said he would, or you'd never have got 
hold of him. And I don't know how you did it, 
and I don't want to know. It was a rather silly 

There was a gloomy pause. The rain beat 
against the long windows. 

" I say " — Jimmy looked up at Lord Yalding 
with the light of a new idea in his round face. 
" I say, if you're hard up, why don't you sell 
your jewels ? " 

" I haven't any jewels, you meddlesome young 
duffer," said Lord Yalding quite crossly ; and 


taking his hands out of his pockets, he began to 
walk away. 

" I mean the ones in the panelled room with 
the stars in the ceiling," Jimmy insisted, follow- 
ing him. 

" There aren't any," said Lord Yalding shortly ; 
" and if this is some more ring-nonsense I advise 
you to be careful, young man. I've had about 
as much as I care for." 

" It's not ring-nonsense," said Jimmy : " there 
are shelves and shelves of beautiful family 
jewels. You can sell them and " 

" Oh, no ! " cried Mademoiselle, appearing like 
an oleograph of a duchess in the door of the 
picture - gallery ; " don't sell the family 
jewels " 

" There aren't any, my lady," said Lord 
Yalding, going towards her. " I thought you 
were never coming." 

" Oh, aren't there ! " said Mabel, who had 
followed Mademoiselle. " You just come and 

" Let us see what they will to show us," cried 
Mademoiselle, for Lord Yalding did not move ; 
" it should at least be amusing." 

" It is," said Jimmy. 

So they went, Mabel and Jimmy leading, while 
Mademoiselle and Lord Yalding followed, hand 
in hand. 

" It's much safer to walk hand in hand," said 
Lord Yalding ; " with these children at large one 
never knows what may happen next." 


It would be interesting, no doubt, to describe 
the feelings of Lord Yalding as he followed 
Mabel and Jimmy through his ancestral halls, 
but I have no means of knowing at all what he 
felt. Yet one must suppose that he felt some- 
thing : bewilderment, perhaps, mixed with a 
faint wonder, and a desire to pinch himself to 
see if he were dreaming. Or he may have 
pondered the rival questions, "Am I mad?" 
" Are they mad ? " without being at all able to 
decide which he ought to try to answer, let alone 
deciding what, in either case, the answer ought 
to be. You see, the children did seem to believe 
in the odd stories they told — and the wish had 
come true, and the ghost had appeared. He must 
have thought — but all this is vain ; I don't really 
know what he thought any more than you do. 
Nor can I give you any clue to the thoughts 
and feelings of Mademoiselle. I only know that 
she was very happy, but any one would have 
known that if they had seen her face. Perhaps 
this is as good a moment as any to explain that 
when her guardian had put her in a convent so 
that she should not sacrifice her fortune by 
marrying a poor lord, her guardian had secured 
that fortune (to himself) by going off with it to 
South America. Then, having no money left, 
Mademoiselle had to work for it. So she went 



out as governess, and took the situation she did 
take because it was near Lord Yalding's home. 
She wanted to see him, even though she thought 
he had forsaken her and did not love her any 
more. And now she had seen him. I daresay 
she thought about some of these things as she 
went along through his house, her hand held in 
his. But of course I can't be sure. 

Jimmy's thoughts, of course, I can read like 
any old book. He thought, " Now he'll have to 
believe me" That Lord Yalding should believe 
him had become, quite unreasonably, the most 
important thing in the world to Jimmy. He 
wished that Gerald and Kathleen were there to 
share his triumph, but they were helping Mabel's 
aunt to cover the grand furniture up, and so 
were out of what followed. Not that they 
missed much, for when Mabel proudly said, 
" Now you'll see," and the others came close 
round her in the little panelled room, there was 
a pause, and then — nothing happened at all ! 

" There's a secret spring here somewhere," 
said Mabel, fumbling with fingers that had 
suddenly grown hot and damp. 

" Where ? " said Lord Yalding. 

" Here" said Mabel impatiently, " only I can't 
find it." 

And she couldn't. She found the spring of 
the secret panel under the window all right, but 
that seemed to every one dull compared with 
the jewels that every one had pictured and two 
at least had seen. But the spring that made 
the oak panelling slide away and displayed 
jewels plainly to any eye worth a king's ransom 



— this could not be found. More, it was simply 
not there. There could be no doubt of that. 
Every inch of the panelling was felt by careful 
lingers. The earnest protests di" Mabel and 
Jimmy died away presently in a silence made 
painful by the hotness of one's ears, the dis- 
comfort of not liking to meet any one's eyes, and 
the resentful feeling that the spring was not 
behaving in at all a sportsmanlike way, and 
that, in a word, this was not cricket. 

" You see ! " said Lord Yalding severely. 
" Now you've had your joke, if you call it a joke, 
and I've had enough of the whole silly business. 
Give me the ring — it's mine, I suppose, since you 
say you found it somewhere here — and don't 
let's hear another word about all this rubbish 
of magic and enchantment." 

" Gerald's got the ring," said Mabel miserably. 

"Then go and fetch him," said Lord Yalding — 
" both of you." 

The melancholy pair retired, and Lord Yalding 
spent the time of their absence in explaining to 
Mademoiselle how very unimportant jewels were 
compared with other things. 

The four children came back together. 

" We've had enough of this ring business," said 
Lord Yalding. " Give it to me, and we'll say no 
more about it." 

"I — I can't get it off," said Gerald. "It — it 
always did have a will of its own." 

" I'll soon get it off," said Lord Yalding. But 
he didn't. " We'll try soap," he said firmly. Four 
out of his five hearers knew just exactly how 
much use soap would be. 


" They won't believe about the jewels," wailed 
Mabel, suddenly dissolved in tears, " and I can't 
find the spring. I've felt all over — we all have 
— it was just here, and " 

Her fingers felt it as she spoke ; and as she 
ceased to speak the carved panels slid away, and 
the blue velvet shelves laden with jewels were 
disclosed to the unbelieving eyes of Lord Yalding 
and the lady who was to be his wife. 

" Jove ! " said Lord Yalding. 

" Miser icorde ! " said the lady. 

" But why note ? " gasped Mabel. " Why not 
before '? " 

" I expect it's magic," said Gerald. " There's 
no real spring here, and it couldn't act because 
the ring wasn't here. You know Phoebus told 
us the ring was the heart of all the magic." 

" Shut it up and take the ring away and see." 

They did, and Gerald was (as usual, he himself 
pointed out) proved to be right. When the ring 
was away there was no spring ; when the ring 
was in the room there (as Mabel urged) was the 
spring all right enough. 

" So you see," said Mabel to Lord Yalding. 

" I see that the spring's very artfully con- 
cealed," said that dense peer. " I think it was 
very clever indeed of you to find it. And if 
those jewels are real " 

" Of course they're real," said Mabel in- 

" Well, anyway," said Lord Yalding, " thank 
you all very much. I think it's clearing up. Ill 
send the wagonette home with you after lunch. 
And if you don't mind, 111 have the ring." 


Half an hour of soap and water produced no 
effect whatever, except to make the finger of 
Gerald very red and very sore. Then Lord 
Yalding said something very impatient indeed, 
and then Gerald suddenly became angry and 
said : " Well, I'm sure I wish it would come off," 
and of course instantly, " slick as butter," as he 
later pointed out, off it came. 

" Thank you," said Lord Yalding. 

" And I believe now he thinks I kept it on on 
purpose," said Gerald afterwards when, at ease 
on the leads at home, they talked the whole 
thing out over a tin of preserved pineapple 
and a bottle of gingerbeer apiece. " There's no 
pleasing some people. He wasn't in such a fiery 
hurry to order that wagonette after he found 
that Mademoiselle meant to go when we did. 
But I liked him better when he was a humble 
bailiff. Take him for all in all, he does not look 
as if we should like him again." 

" He doesn't know what's the matter with 
him," said Kathleen, leaning back against the 
tiled roof ; " it"s really the magic — it's like 
sickening with measles. Don't you remember 
how cross Mabel was at first about the in- 
visibleness ? " 

" Rather ! " said Jimmy. 

"It's partly that," said Gerald, trying to be 
fair, " and partly it's the being in love. It 
always makes people like idiots — a chap at 
school told me. His sister was like that — quite 
rotten, you know. And she used to be quite 
a decent sort before she was engaged." 

At tea and at supper Mademoiselle was 


radiant — as attractive as a lady on a Christmas 
card, as merry as a marmoset, and as kind as 
yon would always be yourself if you could take 
the trouble. At breakfast, an equal radiance, 
kindness, attraction, merriment. Then Lord 
Yalding came to see her. The meeting took 
place in the drawing-room ; the children with 
deep discreetness remained shut in the school- 
room till Gerald, going up to his room for a 
pencil, surprised Eliza with her ear glued to 
the drawing-room key-hole. 

After that Gerald sat on the top stair with a 
book. He could not hear any of the conversa- 
tion in the drawing-room, but he could command 
a view of the door, and in this way be certain 
that no one else heard any of it. Thus it was 
that when the drawing-room door opened Gerald 
was in a position to see Lord Yalding come out. 
" Our young hero," as he said later, " coughed 
with infinite tact to show that he was there," 
but Lord Yalding did not seem to notice. 
He walked in a blind sort of way to the 
hat-stand, fumbled clumsily Avith the umbrellas 
and mackintoshes, found his straw hat and 
looked at it gloomily, crammed it on his head 
and went out, banging the door behind him in 
the most reckless way. 

He left the drawing-room door open, and 
Gerald, though he had purposely put himself in 
a position where one could hear nothing from 
the drawing-room when the door was shut, 
could hear something quite plainly now that 
the door was open. That something, he noticed 
with deep distress and disgust, was the sound 


of sobs and sniffs. Mademoiselle was quite 
certainly crying. 

"Jimminy!" he remarked to himself, "they 
haven't lost much time. Fancy their beginning 
to quarrel already ! I hope I'll never have to be 
anybody's lover." 

But this was no time to brood on the terrors 
of his own future. Eliza might at any time 
occur. She would not for a moment hesitate to 
go through that open door, and push herself 
into the very secret sacred heart of Made- 
moiselle's grief. It seemed to Gerald better 
that he should be the one to do this. So he 
went softly down the worn green Dutch carpet 
of the stairs and into the drawing-room, shutting 
the door softly and securely behind him. 

"It is all over," Mademoiselle was saying, her 
face buried in the beady arum-lilies on a red 
ground worked for a cushion cover by a former 
pupil : " he will not marry me ! " 

Do not ask me how Gerald had gained the 
lady's confidence. He had, as I think I said 
almost at the beginning, very pretty ways with 
grown-ups, when he chose. Anyway, he was 
holding her hand, almost as affectionately as if 
she had been his mother with a headache, and 
saying " Don't ! " and " Don't cry ! " and " It'll be 
all right, you see if it isn't " in the most comfort- 
ing way you can imagine, varying the treatment 
with gentle thumps on the back and entreaties 
to her to tell him all about it. 

This wasn't mere curiosity, as you might 
think. The entreaties were prompted by 


Gerald's growing certainty that whatever was 
the matter was somehow the fault of that ring. 
And in this Gerald was (" once more," as he told 
himself) right. 

The tale, as told by Mademoiselle, was certainly 
an unusual one. Lord Yalding, last night after 
(1 inner, had walked in the park " to think of " 

" Yes, I know," said Gerald ; ' ; and he had the 
ring on. And he saw " 

" He saw the monuments become alive," sobbed 
Mademoiselle : " his brain was troubled by the 
ridiculous accounts of fairies that you tell him. 
He sees Apollon and Aphrodite alive on their 
marble. He remembers him of your story. He 
wish himself a statue. Then he becomes mad- 
imagines to himself that your story of the 
island is true, plunges in the lake, swims among 
the beasts of the Ark of Noe, feeds with gods on 
an island. At dawn the madness become less. 
He think the Pantheon vanish. But him, no — 
he thinks himself statue, hiding from gardeners 
in his garden till nine less a quarter. Then he 
thinks to wish himself no more a statue and 
perceives that he is flesh and blood. A bad 
dream, but he has lost the head with the tales 
you tell. He say it is no dream but he is fool — 
mad — how you say ? And a mad man must not 
marry. There is no hope. I am at despair ! 
And the life is vain ! " 

" There is" said Gerald earnestly. " I assure 
you there is — hope, I mean. And life's as right 
as rain really. And there's nothing to despair 
about. He's not mad, and it's not a dream. It's 
magic. It really and truly is." 


" The magic exists not," Mademoiselle moaned ; 
" it is that he is mad. It is the joy to re-see me 
after so many days. Oh, la-la-la-la-la ! " 

"Did he talk to the gods?" Gerald asked 

" It is there the most mad of all his ideas. He 
say that Mercure give him rendezvous at some 
temple to-morrow when the moon raise herself." 

" Right," cried Gerald, " righto ! Dear nice, 
kind, pretty Mademoiselle Rapunzel, don't be 
a silly little duffer " — he lost himself for a 
moment among the consoling endearments he 
was accustomed to offer to Kathleen in moments 
of grief and emotion, but hastily added : " I 
mean, do not be a lady who weeps causelessly. 
To-morrow he will go to that temple. I will go. 
Thou shalt go — he will go. We will go — you will 
go — let 'em all go ! And, you see, it's going to be 
absolutely all right. He'll see he isn't mad, and 
you'll understand all about everything. Take 
my handkerchief, it's quite a clean one as it 
happens ; I haven't even unfolded it. Oh ! do 
stop crying, there's a dear, darling, long-lost 

This flood of eloquence was not without effect. 
She took his handkerchief, sobbed, half smiled, 
dabbed at her eyes, and said : " Oh, naughty! Is 
it some trick you play him, like the ghost ? " 

" I can't explain," said Gerald, " but I give you 
my word of honour — you know what an English- 
man's word of honour is, don't you ? even if you 
are French — that everything is going to be 
exactly what you wish. I've never told you a 
lie. Believe me ! " 


" It is curious," said she, drying her eyes, " but 
I do." And once again, so suddenly that he 
could not have resisted, she kissed him. I 
think, however, that in this her hour of sorrow 
he would have thought it mean to resist. 

" It pleases her and it doesn't hurt me — much," 
would have been his thought. 

* * * * 

And now it is near moonrise. The French 
governess, half-doubting, half hoping, but wholly 
longing to be near Lord Yalding even if he be 
as mad as a March hare, and the four children — 
they have collected Mabel by an urgent letter- 
card posted the day before— are going over 
the dewy grass. The moon has not yet risen, 
but her light is in the sky mixed with the 
pink and purple of the sunset. The west is heavy 
with ink-clouds and rich colour, but the east, 
where the moon rises, is clear as a rock-pool. 

They go across the lawn and through the 
beech-wood and come at last, through a tangle 
of underwood and bramble, to a little level 
tableland that rises out of the flat hill- top — one 
tableland out of another. Here is the ring of 
vast rugged stones, one pierced with a curious 
round hole, worn smooth at its edges. In the 
middle of the circle is a great flat stone, alone, 
desolate, full of meaning — a stone that is covered 
thick with the memory of old faiths and creeds 
long since forgotten. Something dark moves 
in the circle. The French girl breaks from the 
children, goes to it, clings to its arm. It is 
Lord Yalding, and he is telling her to go. 

" Never of the life ! " she cries. " If you are 


mad I am mad too, for I believe the tale these 
children tell. And I am here to be with thee 
and see with thee — whatever the rising moon 
shall show us." 

The children, holding hands by the flat stone, 
more moved by the magic in the girl's voice 
than by any magic of enchanted rings, listen, 
trying not to listen. 

" Are you not afraid ? " Lord Yalding is 

" Afraid ? With you ? " she laughs. He put 
his arm round her. The children hear her sigh. 

" Are you afraid," he says, " my darling ? " 

Gerald goes across the wide turf ring expressly 
to say : — 

" You can't be afraid if you are wearing the 
ring. And I'm sorry, but we can hear every 
word you say." 

She laughs again. " It makes nothing," she 
says ; " you know already if ^ve love each other." 

Then he puts the ring on her finger, and they 
stand together. The white of his flannel coat 
sleeve marks no line on the white of her dress ; 
they stand as though cut out of one block of 

Then a faint greyness touches the top of that 
round hole, creeps up the side. Then the hole 
is a disc of light — a moonbeam strikes straight 
through it across the grey green of the circle 
that the stones mark, and as the moon rises 
the moonbeam slants downward. The children 
have drawn back till they stand close to the 
lovers. The moonbeam slants more and more ; 
now it touches the far end of the stone, now it 


draws nearer and nearer to the middle of it, now 
at last it touches the very heart and centre of 
that central stone. And then it is as though 
a spring were touched, a fountain of light 
released. Everything changes. Or, rather, 
everything is revealed. There are no more 
secrets. The plan of the world seems plain, 
like an easy sum that one writes in big figures 
on a child's slate. One wonders how one can 
ever have wondered about anything. Space 
is not ; every place that one has seen or 
dreamed of is here. Time is not ; into this 
instant is crowded all that one has ever done 
or dreamed of doing. It is a moment, and it is 
eternity. It is the centre of the universe and it 
is the universe itself. The eternal light rests 
on and illuminates the eternal heart of things. 

None of the six human beings who saw that 
moon-rising were ever able to think about 
it as having anything to do with time. Only 
for one instant could that moonray have rested 
full on the centre of that stone. And yet there 
was time for many happenings. 

From that height one could see far out over 
the quiet park and sleeping gardens, and 
through the grey green of them shapes moved, 

The great beasts came first, strange forms 
that were when the world was new — gigantic 
lizards with wings — dragons they lived as in 
men's memories — mammoths, strange vast 
birds, they crawled up the hill and ranged 
themselves outside the circle. Then, not from 


the garden but from very far away, came the 
stone gods of Egypt and Assyria — bull-bodied, 
bird-winged, hawk-headed, cat-headed, all in 
stone, and all alive and alert ; strange, grotesque 
figures from the towers of cathedrals — figures 
of angels with folded wings, figures of beasts 
with wings wide spread ; sphinxes ; uncouth 
idols from Southern palm-fringed islands ; and, 
last of all, the beautiful marble shapes of the 
gods and goddesses who had held their festival 
on the lake-island, and bidden Lord Yalding and 
the children to this meeting. 

Not a word was spoken. Each stone shape 
came gladly and quietly into the circle of light 
and understanding, as children, tired with a long 
ramble, creep quietly through the open door 
into the firelit welcome of home. 

The children had thought to ask many ques- 
tions. And it had been promised that the 
questions should be answered. Yet now no 
one spoke a word, because all had come into 
the circle of the real magic where all things 
are understood without speech. 

Afterwards none of them could ever remember 
at all what had happened. But they never 
forgot that they had been somewhere where 
everything was easy and beautiful. And people 
who can remember even that much are never 
quite the same again. And when they came 
to talk of it next day they found that to each 
some little part of that night's great enlighten- 
ment was left. 

All the stone creatures drew closer round the 
stone — the light where the moonbeam struck 


it seemed to break away in spray such as water 
makes when it falls from a height. All the 
crowd was bathed in whiteness. A deep hush 
lay over the vast assembly. 

Then a wave of intention swept over the 
mighty crowd. All the faces, bird, beast, 
Greek statue, Babylonian monster, human 
child and human lover, turned upward, the 
radiant light illumined them and one word 
broke from all. 

" The light ! " they cried, and the sound of 
their voice was like the sound of a great wave ; 
"the light! the light " 

And then the light was not any more, and, 
soft as floating thistle-down, sleep was laid 
on the eyes of all but the immortals. 

The grass was chill and dewy and the clouds 
had veiled the moon. The lovers and the chil- 
dren were standing together, all clinging close, 
not for fear, but for love. 

" I want," said the French girl softly, " to go 
to the cave on the island." 

Very quietly through the gentle brooding 
night they went down to the boat-house, loosed 
the clanking chain, and dipped oars among 
the drowned stars and lilies. They came to the 
island, and found the steps. 

" I brought candles," said Gerald, " in case." 

So, lighted by Geralds candles, they went 
down into the Hall of Psyche ! and there glowed 
the light spread from her statue, and all was 
as the children had seen it before. 


It is the Hall of Granted Wishes. 

" The ring," said Lord Yalding. 

" The ring," said his lover, " is the magic ring 
given long ago to a mortal, and it is what you 
say it is. It was given to your ancestor by a 
lady of my house that he might build her a 
garden and a house like her own palace and 
garden in her own land. So that this place 
is built partly by his love and partly by that 
magic. She never lived to see it; that was 
the price of the magic." 

It must have been English that she spoke, 
for otherwise how could the children have 
understood her? Yet the words were not like 
Mademoiselle's way of speaking. 

"Except from children," her voice went on, 
" the ring exacts a payment. You paid for me, 
when I came by your wish, by this terror of 
madness that you have since known. Only one 
wish is free." 

" And that wish is ? " 

" The last," she said. " Shall I wish ? " 

"Yes — wish," they said, all of them. 

" I wish, then," said Lord Yalding's lover, 
" that all the magic this ring has wrought may 
be undone, and that the ring itself may be no 
more and no less than a charm to bind thee and 
me together for evermore." 

She ceased. And as she ceased the enchanted 
light died away, the windows of granted wishes 
went out, like magic-lantern pictures. Gerald's 
candle faintly lighted a rudely arched cave, and 
where Psyche's statue had been was a stone 
with something carved on it. 


Gerald held the light low. 

" It is her grave," the girl said. 

Next day no one could remember anything 
at all exactly. But a good many things were 
changed. There was no ring but the plain gold 
ring that Mademoiselle found clasped in her hand 
when she woke in her own bed in the morning. 
More than half the jewels in the panelled 
room were gone, and those that remained had 
no panelling to cover them; they just lay bare 
on the velvet-covered shelves. There was no 
passage at the back of the Temple of Flora. 
Quite a lot of the secret passages and hidden 
rooms had disappeared. And there were not 
nearly so many statues in the garden as every- 
one had supposed. And large pieces of the 
castle were missing and had to be replaced at 
great expense. From which we may conclude 
that Lord Yalding's ancestor had used the ring 
a good deal to help him in his building. 

However, the jewels that were left were quite 
enough to pay for everything. 

The suddenness with which all the ring-magic 
was undone was such a shock to everyone con- 
cerned that they now almost doubt that any 
magic ever happened. 

But it is certain that Lord Yalding married 
the French governess and that a plain gold ring- 
was used in the ceremony, and this, if you come 
to think of it, could be no other than the magic 
ring, turned, by that last Avish, into a charm to 
keep him and his wife together for ever. 


Also, if all this story is nonsense and a make- 
up — if Gerald and Jimmy and Kathleen and 
Mabel have merely imposed on my trusting 
nature by a pack of unlikely inventions, how 
do you account for the paragraph which ap- 
peared in the evening papers the day after the 
magic of the moon-rising? 


it said, and then went on to say how a gentle- 
man, well known and much respected in 
financial circles, had vanished, leaving no trace. 

"Mr. U. W. Ugli," the papers continued, "had remained late, 
working at his office as was his occasional habit. The office door 
was found locked, and on its being broken open the clothes of the 
unfortunate gentleman were found in a heap on the floor, together 
with an umbrella, a walking stick, a golf club, and, curiously 
enough, a feather brush, such as housemaids use for dusting. Of 
his body, however, there was no trace. The police are stated to 
have a clue." 

If they have, they have kept it to themselves. 
But I do not think they can have a clue, because, 
of course, that respected gentleman was the 
Ugly-Wugly who became real when, in search 
of a really good hotel, he got into the Hall of 
Granted Wishes. And if none of this story ever 
happened, how is it that those four children are 
such friends with Lord and Lady Yalding, and 
stay at The Towers almost every holidays? 

It is all very well for all of them to pretend 
that the whole of this story is my own in- 
vention : facts are facts, and you can't explain 
them away.